Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 storm just before 8 a.m. in the Big Bend area of Florida and was bringing catastrophic storm surge to the region.
Forecasters said the eye of Hurricane Idalia made landfall along the coast of the Big Bend area, near Keaton Beach around 7:45 a.m. Idalia briefly reached Category 4 status and then was downgraded around 7 a.m. to a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. However, the change in wind speed did not diminish the threat of dangerous surge and damaging winds, forecasters said.
Idalia was downgraded to a tropical storm in the hurricane center’s 5 p.m. update. In the 11 p.m. update, sustained winds fell to 60 mph.
Storm surge warnings and watches were discontinued along the Gulf Coast of Florida. A storm surge watch along the Georgia coast was also ended in the 5 p.m. update.
But storm surge is expected along the southeastern U.S. coast as Idalia moves over the Carolinas.
Forecasters expect additional weakening while Idalia’s center continues moving over land overnight Wednesday.
Impacts from Hurricane Idalia
Jim Cantore, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, posted a video on “X,” formerly known as Twitter, of what he said was 6 feet of storm surge at Cedar Key.
A weather station at Keaton Beach measured sustained winds of 62 mph with gusts up to 85 mph at 9 a.m., according to the hurricane center. Another station southwest of Hampton Springs measured a wind gust of 68 mph at 8 a.m.
While Hurricane Idalia did not make a direct impact on Tampa Bay, the storm’s outer bands were bringing storm surge of about 3 to 4 feet across the area. The area saw peak storm surge around late morning, before high tide.
Popular coastal areas like downtown St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach and Gulfport were flooded Wednesday morning.
Flooding along the Alafia River brought waters up to a 6.5-foot flood stage in the Riverview area early Wednesday, flooding nearby homes.
Nicole Carlisle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay office, said about 2 to 4 inches of rain had fallen across the area.
In Tampa Bay, wind gusts were reaching around 50 to 60 mph, and tornadoes were a threat Wednesday morning, Carlisle said.
Forecasters warned of life-threatening winds at Idalia’s core when the storm moves onshore, with hurricane conditions expected in portions of the hurricane warning area. Strong winds pushed inland across portions of northern Florida and southern Georgia.
North and South Carolina experienced heavy rainfall Wednesday night, according to the 11 p.m. update. Flooding is also a concern, and the Carolinas could see areas of flash, urban and river flooding.
Where is Hurricane Idalia
Hurricane Idalia was about 15 miles west of Charleston, South Carolina, according to the 11 p.m. update. The storm’s maximum sustained winds have steadily decreased since it made landfall and, at 11 p.m., were at 60 mph, which is no longer considered a hurricane. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward at about 205 miles from Idalia’s center.
A sustained wind of 48 mph and a gust of 58 mph were recently reported off the coast of South Carolina in the 11 p.m. update.
By Thursday, the storm will be just offshore of the southern North Carolina coast, forecasters say. And by the weekend, Idalia is expected to move east over the western Atlantic.
It is not expected to strengthen as it enters into the Atlantic. Instead, forecasters predict it will peter out into a post-tropical cyclone over the next few days.
Watches and warnings
A storm surge warning is in effect for the Savannah River northward to South Santee River, South Carolina.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Savannah River northward to the Virginia border; and Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.
A storm surge watch is in effect for Beaufort Inlet to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina; and Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, North Carolina.
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