Hurricane Ian: 6 News anchor riding out storm in Orlando

Dave Zawilinski’s family vacation to Disney World hasn’t gone according to plan.
6 News' very own Dave Zawilinski is on vacation in Orlando right now braving the hurricane.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 2:54 PM CDT
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(WOWT) - Anchor Dave Zawilinski was hoping to spend a few days in Orlando having some fun with his family at Disney World but ended up having to take cover and ride out Hurricane Ian instead.

“Hope everybody’s having a nice day — maybe better than me!” Zawilinski said in a Facebook Live post from Orlando on Wednesday afternoon. “ ‘Go to the Disney,’ they said. ‘The kids will have the time of their lives,’ they said. We’ve had a good few days so far, but now we are hunkering down for what is expected to be a pretty big hurricane.”

6 News Dave Zawilinski is in the Orlando area visiting with his family. They're now stuck because airports across the state shut down.

Hurricane Ian made landfall southwest of Orlando on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm.

Walt Disney World announced that all its parks will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, including Disney’s waterparks and Disney Springs.

LIVE from Orlando 👀 #HurricaneIan

Posted by Dave Zawilinski on Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Zawilinski said the closing was definitely justified and emphasized that Disney was doing well working to keep everyone on the resort safe.

He has been keeping in touch with 6 First Alert Senior Chief Meteorologist Rusty Lord about what to expect as the storm moves into the Orlando area. Forecasts are calling for up to 24 inches of rain on ground already saturated with water, making trees more easily toppled.

So far it hasn’t been so bad — something like a continuous Midwestern storm, but the storm is expected to pick up, Zawilinski said.

LIVE from Orlando #HurricaneIan

Posted by 6 News WOWT on Wednesday, September 28, 2022

He said his family is hoping to get out Saturday and head back home to Omaha, but travel might not be possible.

“My wife and I looked at all options,” he said. “We looked at going south to Miami, where it’s a lot less destruction; north to Atlanta, and then take the first flight home back to Omaha. ... Ultimately, the best option for us was to stay.”

The power was still on and food service was still available at about 6:30 p.m. Orlando time, he said. But the eye of the storm was expected to be a direct hit for Orlando, with the eye due to pass over the city Thursday during the early morning hours.

“It’s probably going to be a sleepless night,” Zawilinski said.

Senior Reporter Bayley Bischof, from sister station 10/11 Now in Lincoln, was also vacationing in Florida this week when Hurricane Ian prevented her from returning as planned.

10/11's Bayley Bischof shares her experience of being stuck in Florida due to Hurricane Ian.

She went to Tampa last week with the idea of only being there for four days; but as the hurricane became more severe, her plans had to change.

“I was supposed to leave on Monday night and we were really excited,” Bayley said. “I had planned it really well and would get out before it got too bad. Then I was supposed to fly out again early this morning out of Orlando, but then that flight got canceled as well. So now, it’s just been kind of waiting.”

Digital Director Gina Dvorak, 10/11 Now Reporter Samantha Bernt, and Gray News contributed to this report.