Tropical Storm Idalia is expected to intensify into a Category 3 hurricane as it approaches the coast of Florida on Tuesday morning. The storm currently has sustained winds of 65 mph and is located about 125 miles off the western coast of Cuba. Heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds are predicted for Cuba before the storm moves towards the Gulf of Mexico. Once in the Gulf, Idalia is expected to strengthen into a hurricane and make landfall on the west coast of Florida. The areas most at risk include Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg.
Meteorologist Christopher Tate from Fox Weather warns that the biggest threat from Idalia will be the storm surge, particularly on the eastern side of the storm. Coastal areas are expected to be hit particularly hard, with up to 11 feet of ocean water surging onshore. This could lead to catastrophic flooding along Florida's west coast. Even a few feet of storm surge can cause significant urban flooding. In addition to the storm surge, the hurricane-strength winds are a major concern, with gusts reaching as high as 130 mph. These strong winds can cause roof damage, downed trees, and power outages, particularly along the coast.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency in 33 counties and mobilized 1,100 National Guard members. The state has also prepared 2,400 high-water vehicles and 12 aircraft for rescue and recovery efforts. DeSantis warns residents to expect power outages and advises them to be prepared for evacuations, particularly in the Tallahassee region where there are many trees and power lines that could be knocked down.
Meanwhile, another storm, Hurricane Franklin, has intensified into a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph. While there are no coastal warnings or watches for Franklin, it is expected to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents along the U.S. East Coast. Swells generated by Franklin are already affecting Bermuda.
As both storms intensify, the National Hurricane Center urges residents along Florida's western coast to pay close attention and prepare for the potential impacts. There is still some uncertainty in the forecast, but the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico provide fuel for the storms to gain strength. Emergency officials in Florida are urging residents to keep their vehicle gas tanks at least half-full in case of evacuations.
The 2023 hurricane season is predicted to be busier than initially forecast due to unusually warm ocean temperatures. The season runs through November 30th, with August and September being the peak months for hurricane activity.
themes: Florida Mexico