Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will be closed to all non-registered hotel guests starting Wednesday morning in response to Hurricane Ian.
The hotel and casino will remain closed until conditions allow it to reopen.
The Tampa Hard Rock joins several other Tampa Bay entertainment centers closing for the hurricane. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay announced closures for Wednesday and Thursday, and ZooTampa closed down Tuesday and will remain closed through Thursday. The theme parks said they must take into consideration both guests and animals.
“Our weather preparedness plan is in place and extra precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of our animals during this time,” a statement from Busch Gardens reads.
Hurricane Ian rapidly intensified off Florida’s Southwest coast Wednesday morning, gaining top winds of 155 mph, just shy of the most dangerous Category 5 status. The National Hurricane Center at noon reported the eyewall was moving onshore in Sanibel and Captiva islands.
Damaging winds and rain lashed the state’s heavily populated Gulf Coast, with the Naples to Sarasota region at “highest risk” of a devastating storm surge.
U.S. Air Force hurricane hunters confirmed Ian gained strength over warm Gulf of Mexico water after battering Cuba, bringing down the country’s electricity grid and leaving the entire island without power. Ian was centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west-southwest of Naples at 7 a.m., swirling toward the coast at 10 mph.