Idalia hit Florida’s Gulf Coast near Tallahassee as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph.
Idalia weakened as it moved from Florida to Georgia, becoming a tropical storm on Wednesday. It went through South Carolina and is expected to avoid North Carolina on its way out to sea.
When Is Idalia Hitting Florida?
On Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center warned that Idalia was causing heavy rain and dangerous flash floods in eastern North Carolina.
However, CBS News weather expert David Parkinson predicts that the main flash flood risk in North Carolina will end by noon, and the rain will stop by 7 p.m. as the storm moves further out into the Atlantic.
Idalia had winds of 60 mph. The storm may not get much stronger today, but it could weaken on Friday and Saturday. The National Hurricane Center warned of possible 4-foot high storm surges along the North Carolina coast.
Idalia will likely bring 2 to 4 inches more rain, and in some places, even up to 6 inches, to coastal North Carolina today. According to the center, this heavy rain could cause flash floods, flooding in cities, and rising river levels with significant effects.
During the storm, a 59-year-old man from Gainesville and a 40-year-old man from Spring Hill lost control of their vehicles and sadly lost their lives, as the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
Wednesday afternoon in Valdosta, Georgia, a man tragically lost his life when a tree fell on him while attempting to remove another tree from the road. Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Polk confirmed the incident.
As of 5:30 a.m., Thursday, around 300,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas were without power, as reported by PowerOutage.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and state officials mentioned that they are working to bring back electricity and clear roads in the storm-affected areas.
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DeSantis said, “We are still figuring out what’s happening in the areas where the storm first hit.”
Videos and pictures revealed flooding and damage from the storm’s powerful winds, heavy rain, and storm surge in the Big Bend region. This area is where the Florida peninsula connects to the Panhandle. Forecasters predicted the storm surge could reach as high as 12 to 16 feet.
Where did Hurricane Idalia hit land?
Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast at around 7:45 a.m. ET near Keaton Beach, about 75 miles southwest of Tallahassee, the state’s capital, as the National Hurricane Center reported.
Perry, a city roughly 50 miles southeast of Tallahassee, bore the brunt of the storm’s impact. Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, noted at an afternoon briefing that the state was working closely with local authorities in Perry to address fires, damaged roofs, and one unconfirmed report of a structure collapse.
Madison County, situated about 35 miles inland, was also affected by the storm, experiencing debris on the ground and widespread power outages.
Water levels along Florida’s Big Bend coast rose rapidly on Wednesday morning.
According to the hurricane centre, a tide gauge operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicated that levels reached 6.8 feet above the ‘mean higher high water,’ which approximates the extent of flooding in the area.
In Cedar Key, water levels rose nearly a foot following the hurricane’s landfall, even before high tide.
The hurricane centre had warned of a ‘catastrophic storm surge’ and destructive winds in the Florida Big Bend region. Storm surge, a dangerous rise in water, is a significant threat during hurricanes, and it can happen before, during, or after a storm.
The storm brought down many trees, causing damage to homes, power outages, and blocked roads. It even toppled a 100-year-old oak tree that hit part of the Florida governor’s mansion in Tallahassee. Thankfully, the governor’s wife, Casey DeSantis, and their three children were at home at the time, but no one was hurt.
Where Was Hurricane Idalia Headed After Making Landfall?
After making landfall, Hurricane Idalia moved northeast, affecting northern and central parts of Florida. It brought the region strong winds, heavy rain, and dangerous coastal surges.
Meteorologists warned of ‘damaging winds’ spreading into southern Georgia on Wednesday morning by 11 a.m. ET, the centre of Idalia, had crossed into Georgia, continuing to raise water levels along Florida’s Gulf Coast. By 8 p.m. ET, the storm had reached South Carolina.
The National Weather Service in Tallahassee cancelled tropical/hurricane warnings in a 5 p.m. ET update, with lingering concerns about coastal flooding, especially during high tides.
Significant increases in water levels were reported along the Steinhatchee River after Idalia’s landfall, with meteorologists previously warning of potentially ‘unprecedented’ conditions in the Apalachee Bay, located just south of the state’s capital.
Michael Brennan, director of the National Hurricane Center, explained that this area hadn’t seen a hurricane of this intensity in many years. He noted that the continental shelf in Florida’s Gulf Coast magnifies the storm’s impact, making it vulnerable to severe storm surges.
Brennan added, ‘We are going to see, not just the storm surge, but the potential for damaging winds extending well inland across north Florida, southern Georgia, Savannah, Hilton Head. Hurricane warnings are in effect, and the fast-moving hurricane will bring strong winds far inland.’
In Crystal River, north of Tampa, City Manager Doug Baber anticipated the most severe storm surge threats during high tide later in the day on Wednesday.
What Were Hurricane Idalia’s Wind Speeds?
Before reaching Florida, Hurricane Idalia went through several strength changes. It started as a tropical storm on Tuesday morning, then became a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds by Tuesday afternoon.
Overnight, it rapidly intensified to Category 3 and briefly Category 4 with 130 mph winds early Wednesday before returning to Category 3.
Later, the hurricane was downgraded to Category 2 with 110 mph winds and then to Category 1 at 11 a.m. ET, with winds at 90 mph. By noon, wind speeds were down to 85 mph.
Ultimately, Idalia was downgraded to a tropical storm once its winds fell below 74 mph.
Here’s what hurricane categories mean:
- Category 3: Winds between 111-129 mph
- Category 2: Winds between 96-110 mph
- Category 1: Winds between 74-95 mph
When a storm reaches Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (which goes from 1 to 5 based on wind speeds), it’s called a ‘major hurricane.’ These storms can cause ‘significant loss of life and damage,’ according to the National Hurricane Center.
The warning for a Category 3 hurricane is ‘Devastating damage will occur.’ This means well-built homes might suffer major damage, including removing roofs and gable ends. Many trees will be uprooted and roads blocked. Expect power and water outages for days to weeks after the storm passes.
How Long Will Hurricane Idalia Continue?
Idalia was a hurricane when it reached southern Georgia but became a tropical storm afterwards. According to the National Hurricane Centre, it continued to bring heavy rain and the risk of tornadoes as it entered South Carolina.
The forecast is for Idalia to shift eastward and head out to the Atlantic on Thursday, gradually losing power as it goes.