Hurricane Idalia formed Tuesday morning as it churned its way into the Gulf of Mexico, and is now setting its sights on Florida’s West coast. According to the forecast by the National Hurricane Center, it is anticipated to undergo significant strengthening, possibly growing into a major Category 3 hurricane before making landfall early Wednesday morning. Osceola County is expected to see tropical storm gusts up to 40 mph with rainfall between 2 to 3 inches. NHC officials are monitoring a predecessor rain event that could make its way onto the state prior to the center of the hurricane making landfall early Wednesday.
In its 5 a.m. advisory, the NHC reported Hurricane Idalia is displaying maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, accompanied by stronger gusts. The hurricane’s position was approximately 370 miles to the south-southwest of Tampa, and it was moving north at a speed of 14 mph. The storm’s hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward for a distance of 160 miles.
After making landfall near the Big Bend area of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Idalia is projected to move further inland, likely between Gainesville and Tallahassee. Meteorologists forecast that the hurricane will strengthen to sustained winds of 120 mph, with gusts as high as 150 mph. The potential storm surge may reach a height exceeding 12 feet.
Make preparations now in case Idalia shifts east prior to making landfall. This is a potentially dangerous storm that could bring significant rain and localized flooding. Visit https://kua.com/storm to download KUA’s free 2023 Osceola Hurricane Handbook.