Tropical Storm Idalia is expected to intensify throughout the week, with forecasts predicting it will be a category 3 hurricane by the time it reaches the Florida coast.
The storm will become a "major hurricane" by Wednesday as it makes its way across the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center, which classifies a major hurricane as a storm Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
The National Weather Service warned that as the storm reaches Florida's panhandle, it could bring "life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds and scattered flash and urban flooding" as early as Tuesday. The state could see advisory warnings as soon as Monday night.
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.
The storm hit Cuba over the weekend and into Monday, with the city of Pinar del Río under a hurricane warning. A tropical storm warning was issed for the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum, Rio Lagartos, Cozumel, and the Isle of Youth.
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.
President Joe Biden has pledged his “full support” to Florida, approving an Emergency Declaration for the state. FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center has also been activated in the event of requests for federal help.
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.