According to the latest update by the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Idalia formed early Tuesday morning and is currently 320 miles south-southwest of Tampa. With maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, Idalia is a Category 1 hurricane.
NHC expects Idalia to ‘rapidly intensify’ later today and could strike the Gulf Coast of Florida as a Category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale on Wednesday morning.
“Rapid intensification is likely through landfall, and Idalia is forecast to become an extremely dangerous major hurricane before landfall on Wednesday,” said NHC senior hurricane expert Eric Blake.
🗣️ WRAP UP PREPARATIONS! #HurricaneIdalia continues to move north!
🌊8-12′ storm surge further north, 4-7′ Tampa Bay
🌬️ TS/H force winds depending on location
🌧️4-8″ rain with locally higher amounts
🌪️ Several tornadoes possible
— NWS Tampa Bay (@NWSTampaBay) August 29, 2023
Landfall is expected between 0800 and 1000 ET tomorrow around the north of Tampa, but any shift in trajectory could put the metro area of 400,000 in jeopardy.
NHC predicts Florida’s Big Bend area could be flooded with 12 feet of storm surge.
Rainfall between 6 to 12 inches is expected.
Forecasters predict sustained winds of 120 mph with gusts up to 150 mph before the storm makes landfall.
“This is going to be a major hurricane,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis from the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee Monday.
DeSantis continued, “It’s likely to continue strengthening all the way until impact and it could have catastrophic storm surge in your area.”
“If this storm hits at high tide, storm surge could and would reach 8 to 12 feet in some areas and so that would be life-threatening storm surge,” the governor said.
He said the Big Bend area of the state hasn’t been blasted with a hurricane of this strength in decades.
Ron DeSantis has ordered the activation of the National Guard while the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced President Biden approved an emergency declaration for the Sunshine State.