“I encourage Floridians to have a plan in place and ensure that their hurricane supply kit is stocked," said Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis
The National Hurricane Center said in an advisory Monday morning that intensifying Tropical Storm Idalia is expected to become a dangerous, “major” hurricane over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico by early Wednesday.
“There is an increasing threat of life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and scattered flash and urban flooding along or in portions of the west coast of Florida, the Panhandle and Southeast beginning on Tuesday,” said the NHC.
Per the center, the storm is moving toward the north, near 8 mph, with maximum sustained winds nearing 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts.
“The center of Idalia is forecast to pass near or over western Cuba tonight, over the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico by early Tuesday, and reach the Gulf Coast of Florida on Wednesday,” the NHC said in the Monday morning advisory.
CBS affiliate WFOR-TV reported that the worst of the bad weather is likely to affect South Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday, as heavy rain could lead to localized flooding. About 1 to 2 inches of rain could fall, accompanied by potential wind gusts measuring 25 to 45 miles per hour.
Meanwhile, conditions are predicted to deteriorate in the Tampa Bay region on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported, with winds potentially reaching tropical storm strength and areas possibly expecting about 6 to 10 inches of rain.
On Saturday, in anticipation of Idalia, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for 33 counties. He later expanded the declaration to include 13 more counties, for a total of 46.
“I signed an Executive Order issuing a state of emergency out of an abundance of caution to ensure that the Florida Division of Emergency Management can begin staging resources and Floridians have plenty of time to prepare their families for a storm next week,” DeSantis said at a news conference Saturday, NBC affiliate WFLA-TV reported. “I encourage Floridians to have a plan in place and ensure that their hurricane supply kit is stocked.”
As part of the state’s preparedness efforts, the Florida National Guard is mobilizing 1,100 personnel, while the Florida Highway Patrol has 300 troopers ready to be deployed. The State Emergency Operations Center Team was activated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to provide support for ongoing operations.
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A major hurricane is classified as Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. A Category 3 hurricane will bring forth devastating damage at sustained winds of 111–129 mph, while a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 157 mph or higher will wreak catastrophic damage.
“If you are in the path of this storm, you should expect power outages,” DeSantis said, per the Associated Press. “So please prepare for that, particularly if this storm ends up coming in the Tallahassee region, there’s a lot trees that are going to get knocked down, the power lines are going to get knocked down – that is just going to happen, so just be prepared for that and be able to do what you need to do.”
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