Hurricane Idalia on Track for Florida Daybreak Landfall

Katabella Roberts
By Katabella Roberts
August 29, 2023Weather

More than 30 counties in Florida have been placed under mandatory evacuation orders after experts projected a rapidly strengthening Hurricane Idalia will become an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 intensity when it makes landfall.

The hurricane, which is headed towards Florida’s Big Bend Gulf Coast, was picking up speeds of up to 110 mph (177 kph) by late afternoon on Aug. 29, placing it at the upper end of Category 2.

However, the National Hurricane Center said later Tuesday that Idalia was likely to become a more dangerous Category 4 intensity when it touches down on Aug. 30, bringing with it “catastrophic storm surge inundation,” “destructive waves,” and “life-threatening winds” in some areas along Florida’s west coast, past the Tampa Bay area, and Florida’s Big Bend, as well as potential flash-flooding.

“Residents should heed advice & evacuation orders by local officials in these areas,” officials said.

So far, at least 28 of Florida’s 67 counties across the Big Bend area, particularly those in low-lying coastal areas, have been placed under evacuation orders and a tornado watch has been issued until 6 a.m. ET for 3.7 million people in the western peninsula of Florida. A state of emergency has also been issued for 49 of Florida’s 67 counties.

The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee said that some locations “may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months” following the hurricane, because of large trees being uprooted, debris in the streets, and other wind damage.

‘Unprecedented Event’

The National Weather Service Tallahassee office said Idalia “has the makings of an unprecedented event for this part of the state.”

“To put this system into the historical context, there are NO major hurricanes in the historical dataset going back to 1851 that have tracked into Apalachee Bay. None. Don’t mess around with this one.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has warned residents under evacuation orders to leave now before Hurricane Idalia hits the ground.

“You still have a couple hours to pack up and get on the road before conditions deteriorate, but by late tonight you will need to hunker down and stay in place,” the Republican governor wrote on X, formerly, Twitter, late Tuesday. “If you choose to stay, first responders will not be able to get to you until after the storm has passed,” he added.

The governor added that shelters will be open across the high-risk counties while more than 300 members of the Florida Highway Patrol are on standby to escort equipment, resources, and response teams in the wake of the hurricane.

The Florida National Guard has been fully activated, Mr. DeSantis said, with 3,700 guardsmen currently in position across the state for preparedness and response efforts and an additional 1,800 guardsmen on the way ahead of the storm landing.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has said he is in “constant contact” with Mr. DeSantis ahead of the hurricane touching down, adding that his administration is providing him with “everything he could possibly need.”

“We’re worried about the surge, the ocean surge. We don’t know exactly — hour to hour, we’re watching this,” The President told reporters late Tuesday.  “But I told the governor, and the mayor of the region that’s likely to be hit first, that we’re there as long as it takes, and we’ll make sure they have everything they need,” he added.

Idalia Now Category 3

As of the early hours of Wednesday morning, Idalia reached Category 3 strength with winds of 120 mph (195 kph), according to the National Weather Service, which noted that Florida wasn’t the only state at risk.

“A northward to north-northeastward motion is expected through morning, with Idalia’s center forecast to reach the Big Bend coast of Florida this morning,” NWS said in an update in the early hours of the morning Wednesday.”

After landfall, Idalia is forecast to turn toward the northeast and east-northeast, moving near or along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina late today and Thursday.”

“Idalia is likely to still be a hurricane while moving across southern Georgia, and possibly when it reaches the coast of Georgia or southern South Carolina late today,” officials added.

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia have declared states of emergency in advance of the storm touching down and have urged residents to monitor local forecasts and to begin taking proper precautions.

Hurricane Idalia looks set to become the fourth major hurricane to strike Florida over the past seven years, following Irma in 2017, Michael in 2018 and Ian, which peaked at Category 5, last September.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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