Imminent Danger: Hurricane Idalia’s Deadly Surge Targets Florida
Hurricane Idalia is set to intensify significantly as it heads to Florida, with a predicted landfall on Wednesday along the Gulf Coast. The hurricane, which is expected to hit at Category 3 strength, may become the first major hurricane in at least 172 years to hit Apalachee Bay in the sparsely populated Big Bend region. Preparations are underway, including the activation of more than 5,000 National Guard members, school and airport closures, and evacuation orders in multiple counties.
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Hurricane Idalia is forecasted to intensify dramatically en route to Florida. Evacuation orders, school closures, and an airport shutdown precede the expected Wednesday landfall along the Gulf Coast.
Evacuations are being carried out and the National Guard stands ready as Idalia could severely impact Florida’s Gulf Coast. A potential shift in the track could place vulnerable population centers like Tampa at higher risk.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell urged residents to be wary of the flood risk and adhere to evacuation orders.
“The primary cause of fatalities in these storms is water, encompassing storm surge and excessive inland rainfall that results in urban flash flooding,” she explained.
Storm surge could raise water levels by up to 12 feet in northern Florida parts, warns the hurricane center.
“This will be a substantial hurricane,” stated Gov. Ron DeSantis at a recent press conference.
As of Tuesday morning, Idalia is a Category 1 storm, with sustained winds of 80 mph, moving north at 14 mph around 320 miles south-southwest of Tampa, informs the hurricane center.
Tampa International Airport and several other airports have suspended all operations until damage assessments are conducted. Major airlines have canceled over 300 flights.
Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in 22 counties and 32 county school districts have been closed along with several universities.
An emergency declaration has been expanded to cover 46 of 67 Florida counties and over 5,000 National Guard members have been deployed in response to the storm.
DeSantis warned residents to be prepared for power outages.
Three hospitals will transfer their patients elsewhere due to service suspensions.
Projections suggest that Idalia will strengthen quickly as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico, tapping into some of the planet’s warmest waters before making landfall.
The National Hurricane Center expressed concern about Idalia’s “notable risk” of intensifying rapidly as it traverses the Gulf of Mexico.
The forecasted storm surge of up to 12 feet could flood inland areas that receive evacuees, warns Andrew Kruczkiewicz, senior researcher at the Columbia University’s Climate School.
“We’re seeing wetter tropical cyclones and wetter hurricanes more frequently, a trend linked to climate change,” he told CNN. “Hence, we must focus on the risks associated with extreme rainfall, especially in areas distant from the coastline.”
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