The National Hurricane Centre issued a warning about an increasing potential of a deadly storm surge and hazardous hurricane-force winds in Florida over the next two days as Idalia strengthened to a massive hurricane on a path towards the Gulf coast on Tuesday.
According to the National Hurricane Centre, it is expected to produce sustained winds of up to 120 mph (193 kph) as it hits Florida. As a result, it would be a Category 3 storm.
Idalia’s centre is expected to cross the eastern Gulf of Mexico later on Tuesday, make landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday within the boundaries of a Hurricane Warning, and approach the coast of North Carolina on Thursday.
Idalia developed on Monday, and scientists projected it would soon make landfall as a major hurricane with possibly fatal storm surges. Florida residents packed up sandbags and fled their houses in low-lying locations along the Gulf Coast.
“You should be wrapping up your preparation for #TropicalStormIdalia tonight and Tues morning at the latest,” the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay said Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Idalia pounded Cuba with torrential rain as the government was getting ready, especially in the westernmost region of the island where the province of Pinar del Rio, which produces tobacco, is still recuperating from the devastation brought on by Hurricane Ian about a year ago.
Residents were relocated to friends’ and relatives’ homes as authorities established a state of notice in the province and watched for potential flooding in the Cuyaguateje river. As much as 10 centimeters (4 inches) of rain fell in Cuba on Sunday, meteorological stations reported.
Hurricane-force winds from Idalia are anticipated to begin hitting Florida as early as late Tuesday and hit the coast by Wednesday. It is the first storm to make landfall in Florida this hurricane season and could strike a serious blow to the state, which is still recovering from Hurricane Ian’s aftereffects.
Idalia is also the most recent of several natural disasters that have occurred this summer, including disastrous flooding in Vermont, the first tropical storm to impact California in 84 years, and wildfires in Hawaii, Canada, and Greece.
“Just got to prepare for these things, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst and, you know, hunker down, as they say,” said Derek Hughes as he waited to load up his car with sandbags at a city park in Tampa.
State of emergency has been proclaimed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis across 46 counties, a large area including the state’s northern half from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Coast, with order to aid with rescue and recovery operations, the state has mobilised 1,100 soldiers of the National Guard, who have 2,400 high-water vehicles and 12 aircraft at their disposal.