Hurricane Idalia is now Category 4 Hurricane Approaching Florida Landfall
At 6 a.m., the National Hurricane Center reported that Idalia had sustained its maximum winds of 130 mph, initially recorded during the 5 a.m. update, solidifying its status as a major Category 4 hurricane. Presently positioned about 55 miles to the west-northwest of Cedar Key and 95 miles to the south-southeast of Tallahassee, the storm is making north-northeastward progress at a speed of 17 mph.
The National Hurricane Center warned of the incoming ‘catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds’ as Idalia approaches, with landfall projected near the coastal areas of Taylor and Dixie counties, nestled between Tallahassee and Gainesville, before 9 a.m.
Speaking from the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee during Wednesday’s morning press conference, Governor Ron DeSantis remarked, ‘There will be impacts far beyond the eyewall.’ The press conference briefly experienced a power interruption while DeSantis was addressing the situation. He continued, ‘We have already had 11 tornado warnings and there are more tornadoes possible.’
‘Idalia could further gain strength prior to its arrival on the Florida Big Bend coast in a matter of hours,’ stated the hurricane center. ‘Although the hurricane is projected to weaken post-landfall, it’s anticipated to retain hurricane status as it traverses southern Georgia and approaches the coasts of Georgia or southern South Carolina later today.’
Idalia’s hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from its center, while tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 175 miles, as reported by the NHC.
When Idalia makes its presence felt in the sparsely populated Big Bend region, where Florida’s panhandle gracefully transitions into the peninsula, the storm’s winds could potentially escalate beyond 130 mph. A storm surge reaching as high as 12-16 feet is anticipated in certain areas along Idalia’s trajectory.
‘Do not jeopardize your life by engaging in any foolish actions at this point,’ cautioned DeSantis. ‘This storm is formidable. If you’re indoors, stay sheltered until it passes.’
The National Weather Service in Tallahassee termed Idalia ‘an unparalleled event,’ highlighting that no major hurricanes in recorded history have traversed the bay adjacent to the Big Bend.
On Tuesday, squalls spread across the Florida peninsula as the system advanced along the Gulf Coast. Collier County received tornado warnings afternoon as the storm bands moved through. The hurricane is projected to continue its northward to north-northeastward journey prior to the impending landfall on Wednesday morning. Subsequently, it is expected to shift northeastward and then east-northeastward, moving into Georgia and skimming the coasts of the Carolinas late on Wednesday or early Thursday.
The National Weather Service expanded the tornado watch to cover 26 Florida counties until 3 p.m., including Central Florida counties such as Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia.
Tornado warnings were issued for east Orange and Seminole shortly before 4:30 a.m. due to indications on radar, with an earlier overnight warning in Osceola County.
As of Wednesday at 6 a.m., over 60,000 customers were grappling with power outages across the state, according to poweroutage.us.
Governor DeSantis is scheduled to hold multiple press conferences throughout the day, streamed on thefloridachannel.org and his official Facebook page.”
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