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Tropical Storm Idalia approaches Florida with 100-mph winds and significant storm surge

Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2023. 6:50 pm CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: Tropical Storm Idalia, which was recently upgraded from Tropical Depression Ten near the southern Gulf of Mexico, is now making its approach towards Florida, prompting Hurricane, Tropical Storm, and Storm Surge Watches across parts of the state. According to Fox Weather, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects Idalia to make landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast as a hurricane early this week.

Governor Ron DeSantis, preparing for the storm’s impact, declared a state of emergency in 33 counties. During a Sunday news conference, he emphasized the unpredictability of hurricanes, recalling last year’s Hurricane Ian, which deviated from its forecasted path and hit Southwest Florida as a major hurricane. “The models are probably more in agreement than when we had Ian last year. But these things can shift,” cautioned DeSantis.

As the NHC releases more watches and warnings for Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Executive Director, Kevin Guthrie, highlighted the importance of not just focusing on the storm’s cone. “We will have storm surge warnings and watches in the coming days,” he said, noting storm surge as the primary cause of death during Hurricane Ian.

To bolster preparedness efforts, power companies will begin staging linemen from Monday. The state has also mobilized over 1,000 National Guardsmen, equipped with high-water vehicles and aircraft for rescue and recovery operations. The storm, predicted to become a hurricane over the eastern Gulf of Mexico by Tuesday, brings with it risks of life-threatening storm surge, torrential rain, and hurricane-force winds along Florida’s west coast and the Florida Panhandle.

The current location of Tropical Storm Idalia is about 100 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. Expected to meander near the Yucatan Channel through Sunday night, the storm will then likely move northward, over the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The impending storm might bring some respite to Florida’s ongoing drought, especially along its west coast. Many areas, including Tampa and Naples, have seen significant rainfall deficits this year. The upcoming storm is predicted to bring much-needed rainfall to these regions.

Preparations are underway in multiple counties, with locations like Pinellas, Pasco, and Citrus counties offering sandbags to residents to anticipate flooding in vulnerable areas. Residents are strongly advised to prepare for the storm’s impact, keeping in mind the potential damages similar to last year’s Hurricane Nicole, which resulted in damages of around $1 billion.

 

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