Idalia has strengthened to a hurricane as of Tuesday morning, barrelling towards Florida’s Gulf coast and bringing conditions the National Hurricane Center is warning could be life-threatening.
The Hurricane Center said the storm could bring winds of up to 120 mph, classifying it as a Category 3 hurricane. It is expected to make landfall on Florida by Wednesday morning.
Florida's west coast, the Panhandle, southeast Georgia, and eastern parts of the Carolinas are expected to receive 4 to 8 inches of rain between Tuesday and Thursday, with some areas at risk of up to 12 inches.
“Areas of flash and urban flooding, some of which may be locally significant, are expected across portions of the west coast of Florida, the Florida Panhandle, and southern Georgia Tuesday into Wednesday, spreading into portions of the eastern Carolinas Wednesday into Thursday,” the Hurricane Center warned.
Currently, the Dry Tortugas in Florida are under a tropical storm warning, with Chokoloskee to Indian Pass, which includes Tampa Bay, under a storm surge watch. The storm hit Cuba over the weekend and into Monday, with the city of Pinar del Río under a hurricane warning.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in an address that Floridians in the path of the storm should "be prepared to lose power," and that evacuation orders will be issued in "Gulf Coast counties in the A and B zones [and] all the barrier islands places that are low lying on the coast."
"This is going to be a major impact and Floridians should expect that this storm will be a major category three hurricane," he said.
President Joe Biden has pledged his “full support” to the state, approving an Emergency Declaration for Florida. FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center has also been activated in the event the state makes a request for federal help.