Our live updates for Wednesday have concluded. Find live updates for Thursday here.
Hurricane Idalia made landfall early Wednesday along the coast of Florida’s Big Bend region as a Category 3 with sustained winds of 125 mph, bringing devastating damage to the area, including Horseshoe Beach, Steinhatchee and Cedar Key.
Idalia was downgraded to a tropical storm Wednesday evening and storm surge warnings and watches were discontinued for Florida, though more than 200,000 Floridians had lost power. Much of South Carolina was under a tropical storm warning as Idalia brought flooding to Charleston Wednesday night.
While Tampa Bay escaped the worst, Idalia’s brush 100 miles off the coast pushed water into the area, flooding homes in coastal communities in Pinellas and Pasco counties, such as Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg’s Shore Acres and Hudson. In Tampa, Bayshore Boulevard flooded, but some of the worst flooding in Hillsborough County was along the Alafia River in Riverview.
Bridges and beach access reopened around the Tampa Bay area Wednesday evening. Schools in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties will reopen on Thursday. Here’s the latest:
11:23 p.m. Did Idalia bring record surge to Tampa Bay?
Experts are split on whether East Bay, St. Pete and Clearwater experienced record-breaking storm surge. Early data reveals water levels matched or exceeded previous highs.If preliminary data is proven to be accurate, East Bay Tampa would hold a new surge record for the Tampa Bay area after receiving what is believed to be nearly 5.7 feet.
St. Petersburg experienced 4 feet of storm surge, Mayor Ken Welch said Wednesday morning. This would put Idalia’s surge on par with the city’s current record, set in 1985, but researchers say this data could change in the coming days. Read the full story. — Jack Prator
11:00 p.m. In Pasco, family watched dream home burn
Like most Floridians, Dave and Heather Durst figured flooding was the biggest threat to their Hudson dream home as Hurricane Idalia bore down on Wednesday. Instead, their bungalow succumbed to flames after flood waters prevented firefighters from getting there in time. Read the full story. — Ian Hodgson
10:35 p.m. Forecast for Idalia was very accurate
Tampa Bay’s impact from Hurricane Idalia was very close to what forecasters predicted. Rick Davis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay office, said that is thanks to much better hurricane technology.
In June, the National Hurricane Center began using its new Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System to predict storm activity. “A lot of science has gone into the hurricane center’s forecasting,” Davis said. “It’s actually a lot better and higher resolution than it had been 20 or 30 years ago.”
Davis said surge is hard to predict in Tampa Bay. One area may be flooding while another is much drier. “Tampa Bay is such a wide and varied bay and it has these little nuances,” he said. “In general for the bay, everything that was forecast — those numbers looks like it panned out pretty well.”
One key factor that saved Tampa Bay from a worse storm surge was Idalia’s northward speed. A faster-moving storm typically sees less surge. “The duration of winds is not as high because it’s moving faster,” Davis said. “Ian was a slower mover and had a much larger eyewall that helped funnel winds and storm surge into the Fort Myers Beach area.”
Idalia’s landfall in the Big Bend also had a lot to do with Idalia being less damaging and deadly than Hurricane Ian. “People up there generally build everything on stilts so it can handle water to a certain level,” Davis said. “It’s not as densely populated up there as it is in the Tampa area.” — Jack Prator
10:35 p.m. More drone images from Horseshoe Beach
10:05 p.m. South Carolina now dealing with Idalia
Tropical Storm Idalia is pushing ocean waters inland across the South Carolina coast. North Myrtle Beach, Garden City, Charleston and Edisto Island all reported ocean water topping sand dunes or walls and into beachfront streets.
The tide continued to rise in Charleston harbor. The National Weather Service in Charleston called it a dangerous situation and urged people to stay away from the beach and out of flood waters.
Idalia also spawned a tornado that touched down briefly in the Charleston suburb of Goose Creek, the National Weather Service said. The winds sent a car into the air and flipped it over, according to authorities and eyewitness video. Two people received minor injuries. — Associated Press
9:35 p.m. Pasco fatality not storm related
A fatal crash in Pasco County on Tuesday will not be classified as a storm-related fatality, Pasco County emergency management director Andy Fossa told NBC News on Wednesday. The Florida Highway Patrol had originally announced the death as related to Hurricane Idalia.
“The weather was not that bad when the gentleman was driving,” Fossa said. “He was driving on an incredibly curvy road, the road was slick. Unfortunately he hit a tree and lost his life. First responders were able to get to him immediately, so we’re not going to classify it as a storm fatality, but as a traffic fatality.”
A falling tree killed a Georgia man clearing a blocked roadway Wednesday as tropical storm Idalida tore through the Valdosta, Georgia, area, according to Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk.
Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference Wednesday night said there was possibly one hurricane-related death in Florida, a different fatal traffic accident. That one happened in Alachua County where a man died after driving his truck into a ditch during heavy rain. At that news conference, Gov. DeSantis noted that there had been no reported deaths related to flooding, and no one had been reported missing due to the storm.
The governor and other officials credited people’s willingness to evacuate to keeping the death toll lower, so far, compared to deadly Hurricane Ian last year. — Christopher Spata
9:05 p.m. In Cedar Key, raging surge took over tiny town
On the shaded streets of this tiny island, residents rolled around in golf carts and trucks Wednesday afternoon, pointing their arms toward the damage.
Hurricane Idalia had pushed the frothing Gulf of Mexico up over G Street and through the Faraway Inn. The flood deposited banks of shells down Dock Street and tore open the floor at Duncan’s on the Gulf. The restaurant’s exposed decking revealed sloshing waves below. Inside, dollar bills tacked to the wall flitted in the afternoon breeze, a whisper of the storm’s fury.
Idalia had looked like the ocean just taking over our little town,” one resident said. Read the full story. — Zack Sampson and Douglas R. Clifford
8:57 p.m. Late photos of St. Pete flooding
8:27 p.m. Pinellas: Be careful returning home
Residents who evacuated from Hurricane Idalia should be careful returning home, due to ongoing street flooding, Pinellas County said in a news release Wednesday night. “Never drive through standing water,” the release stated. The county still has two open shelters, Lealman Exchange, at 5175 45th St. N., St. Petersburg, and Palm Harbor CSA, 1500 16th St. in Palm Harbor.
In St. Petersburg, police said flood waters have receded and most city streets were fully open to traffic Wednesday evening, except the Shore Acres and Snell Isle neighborhoods. Sections of 62nd Avenue N and 22nd Avenue N used to drive into those neighborhoods remained underwater and about 60% of streets in Shore Acres and Snell Isle remained flooded, police said. Only residents in elevated vehicles with proof of address are being allowed into those areas.
Pinellas County residents in need of assistance with damage to their homes or cleanup can call the county’s Crisis Cleanup Home Cleanup Hotline at (800) 451-1954. Flood damage should be reported to apply for potential state and federal assistance. Damage to homes can be reported here. Businesses should report damage here. — Christopher Spata
7:57 p.m. 85 rescue missions in Pasco County
Pasco County Fire Rescue carried out 85 rescue missions to save at least 150 people from flooding, “ages ranging from 9 days to 90 years old,” according to a county news release Wednesday evening.
The county also also tallied 350 people who stayed in shelters with 170 pets. Evacuation orders have ended and Pasco shelters are now closed, except for the Fasano Regional Hurricane Center in Hudson which is open to special needs and displaced residents only.
All county government services are set to resume Thursday, except for Animal Services, which will reopen Friday, and some GoPasco County Public Transportation services west of U.S. 19, which are suspended until further notice. — Christopher Spata
7:34 p.m. Some in Tampa rode out Idalia at bus stops
Chunks of wet cardboard lay scattered underneath two covered bus shelters in downtown Tampa this afternoon, where a dozen homeless people gathered.
The group had ridden out Hurricane Idalia under the shelters near the corner of E Tyler and N Marion streets, some using the cardboard to unsuccessfully block the rain that poured down and into the exposed sides of the shelters from Tuesday night into Wednesday.
Their reasons for not going to county shelters varied, but many said they didn’t know shelter was available. Read the full story. — Justin Garcia
7:06 p.m. 200,000 without power in Florida
Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents are without power after Hurricane Idalia. Counties to the north and in the state’s Big Bend have the highest rates of outages, a Tampa Bay Times analysis shows.
As of 6:30 p.m., 97% of customers in Taylor County, where the storm made landfall, had reported power outages. Nearby Suwannee, Madison and Jefferson counties also had outage rates around 100%, according to data from the site, PowerOutage.us. In Tampa Bay, thousands lost power, but far fewer than in counties that experienced a direct hit. Read the full story. — Teghan Simonton
6:41 p.m. DeSantis: One possible death from Idalia
One person might have died from Hurricane Idalia, Gov. Ron DeSantis said. State police were investigating a fatal “traffic incident,” which could be the first death linked to the storm. ”That may end up being a confirmed fatality. It has not been confirmed yet,” DeSantis said. “But that one is in the hopper, and it is being reviewed.”
Search and rescue teams have yet to find anyone dead in their homes, and there are no outstanding missing persons reports, according to Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. DeSantis and officials said residents seemed to heed evacuation orders.
The aftermath of Idalia has been different than the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Ian, which killed about 150 people, DeSantis said, noting police did not receive the types of calls this week as they did after Ian. ”The panicked phone calls of people calling, whose homes were filling up with water, was something that was very, very ominous, and that happened relatively early on when the surge first started happening,” DeSantis said of Ian. ”It’s been been different ... and that’s obviously welcomed news.”
National Guard members and state transportation officials have cleared all bridges in the state’s affected areas. Ten hospitals were evacuated, and nine expect to be operational within 24 hours, DeSantis said. — Lawrence Mower
6:28 p.m. In Shore Acres: ‘They have to replace everything’
Residents in St. Petersburg’s Shore Acres neighborhood aren’t strangers to flooding — yet Idalia, they said, was different. The storm stayed more than 100 miles offshore, but low-lying areas, like Shore Acres, still saw several feet of floodwater.
For hours Wednesday, firefighters used rescue boats to evacuate people from inundated homes in the neighborhood. They struggled to fight a house fire on Bayou Grande Boulevard NE because the roads were so flooded. They only pulled their rescue boats in when the bay’s tide receded in late afternoon, leaving residents to survey the damage.
Janecia Wallace was among those rescued by firefighters. Water started rushing into her house at 6 a.m. By sunrise, it was coming into her room. “We were loading water into buckets in our sinks and bathroom,” the 18-year-old said. “It’s come in before, but never this high or this bad.” Full story and more photos here. — Hannah Critchfield and Jennifer Glenfield
6:08 p.m. In Weeki Wachee Gardens: ‘I thought things would be safe in there.’
Residents of the Weeki Wachee Gardens community in Hernando County surveyed the damage Wednesday following Hurricane Idalia and began the long work of cleaning up. Deanna and Steve Knapp waded in calf-high waters outside their stilted two-story home on Ramada Street.
Debris and garbage cans from neighboring short-term rental properties floated down the road, although the floodwater had receded since the morning’s high tide. A green and black snake slithered past, disappearing quickly into the marshy grass. “I don’t know where to start,” said Deanna Knapp, 53. “It’s a big, big mess.” Read the full story, and see more photos here. — Helen Freund
5:53 p.m. In Tampa Bay’s flooded Idalia aftermath, asking why
Every time we fumble through the cursed communal proceedings of a hurricane, the answer remains elusive. Why, again, was Tampa Bay spared more than other areas? Why do we live this way, in a state of seasonal transience, ready to bug out at a moment’s notice? Why even bother going through the drama of leaving our homes when we have not, in a lifetime, come out on the losing end?
We know our coastal residents are trying to dry out their homes and piece together businesses and will be saddled with a long road of repairs ahead. We also know, on the whole, that Tampa Bay got lucky again. We know that others cannot say the same. These floods offer a painful preview of the chaos a closer hit would cause. We just don’t know when, or how — or why. Read the full column here. — Stephanie Hayes
5:38 p.m. Flooding makes fighting fire difficult in St. Pete
Fire crews rescued a homeowner from a burning house in Shore Acres on Wednesday morning and then fought the fire, but the first challenge was getting to the home surrounded by floodwater.
A resident at the home on Bayou Grande Boulevard NE noticed the fire and called for help around 9:45 a.m., according to a news release from St. Petersburg Fire Rescue. By then, floodwaters from Hurricane Idalia had engulfed the neighborhood and surrounded the home. Read the full story. — Tony Marrero
5:33 p.m. No injuries to inmates or staff at prisons
There were no reported hurricane-related injuries for Florida inmates or correctional staff, according to the Department of Corrections. About 4,000 inmates were evacuated to other facilities out of the storm’s path. The department is still assessing damage to their facilities, but said all institutions have power or working generators.
Many of the state’s prisons are in the panhandle and the Big Bend region of the state. After Hurricane Michael, the department found itself struggling with damaged facilities. That damage forced 5,000 inmates to shift to different facilities across the state and displaced nearly 300 correctional officers. — Romy Ellenbogen
5:23 p.m. Pinellas schools reopen Thursday
Pinellas County Schools reopen Thursday, including for after-school events. District officials said they understand that some areas of the county remain prone to flooding, and urged families to assess their situations and act in the best interest of safety. “Any student absent due to weather-related circumstances will be marked as an excused absence,” the district said. Pasco and Hillsborough County schools announced earlier that they will also reopen on Thursday. Read the full story. — Jeff Solochek
5:14 p.m. Beach access restored in Pinellas County
Access to all barrier islands along the coast of Pinellas County has been reopened to residents and the public with no restrictions as of 5 p.m., Pinellas deputies said. That includes the Memorial Causeway bridge, restoring access to Clearwater Beach for residents and visitors, the City of Clearwater said. Public works employees began clearing debris and sand from the roads earlier in the afternoon. Read the full story. — Tony Marrero and Tracey McManus
5:08 p.m. No more surge warning, no more Hurricane Idalia
As of the 5 p.m. forecast from the National Hurricane Center, the Tampa Bay area is no longer experiencing storm surge and no longer under a storm surge warning. Hurricane Idalia is also no longer a hurricane, with sustained winds now at 70 mph, below the 74 mph threshold for a Category 1 hurricane. Read the full story. — Jack Prator
4:58 p.m. USF: St. Pete campus closed, Tampa will open
The University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus will remain closed with classes cancelled Thursday. The campus expects to reopen Friday. The USF Tampa campus, USF Health (including downtown) and Sarasota-Manatee will reopen Thursday. Classes at the Mote Marine Laboratory are canceled on Thursday. — Divya Kumar
4:47 p.m. Hillsborough and Pasco schools open Thursday
Hillsborough County schools will reopen on Thursday. “Once the shelters are cleared this afternoon, our maintenance teams will clean and sanitize those schools, so they will be ready for students tomorrow morning,” spokesperson Tanya Arja said. Parents should alerts their children’s schools in the morning if they can’t get to school because of damage or flooding at their homes, or blocked roads.
Pasco County schools will also resume Thursday. “All of our schools fared well during the storm,” superintendent Kurt Browning said. It appeared flooding on roads west of U.S. 19 was receding, Browning said, allowing buses to get to and from schools. His larger concern was students and staff affected by the storm who cannot make it to school. “We’ll be working with those who are impacted,” Browning said, noting any absences will be excused. Read the full story. — Jeff Solochek
4:43 p.m. Watching evacuations in Shore Acres
In Shore Acres, on the edge of the floodwater, Scott Straughn, 65, spent the day witnessing his lower-ground neighbors evacuate from 40th Avenue NE, where his house sits.
”It’s a parade of people leaving their homes. Proud people, with their kids. This is the highest it’s been in 50 years,” he said. “All my neighbors are saying the same thing. And they’re crying inside their homes — if they’re the fortunate ones.”
Water rose up to Straughn’s lawn. His generator won’t start. His power is still out. But Straughn considers himself lucky. ”I don’t care what’s in my fridge, I can replace it,” he said. “These people, they have to replace everything.” — Hannah Critchfield
4:30 p.m. Hillsborough evacuees cleared to return, courts will reopen
Hillsborough County is rescinding its mandatory evacuation order at 5 p.m. Residents may return to their homes then. As Hurricane Idalia approached, the county ordered all residents in its low-lying coastal area, and occupants of mobile and manufactured homes to evacuate.
The county asked residents to drive with caution and not drive through obstructions or standing water and to avoid downed power lines. Some traffic signals may not be functioning, the county said in a news release. Courts in Hillsborough County will reopen on Thursday. Read the full story.— C.T. Bowen and Dan Sullivan
4:15 p.m. Biden says he’s working with DeSantis
President Joe Biden on Wednesday lauded the work of emergency responders and state officials, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in dealing with the effects of Hurricane Idalia. The Democratic president said he and the Republican governor — himself a 2024 presidential candidate — have put aside politics to focus on protecting Florida’s residents, just as he says they did during recovery efforts last year after Hurricane Ian hit the state. Read more here.
4:07 p.m. Sunshine Skyway Bridge reopens
The Florida Highway Patrol has reopened the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to traffic, but the fishing piers and rest areas along the bridge remain closed until further notice. The Skyway is closed whenever winds reach 40 mph. — Tony Marrero
4 p.m. Hernando schools resume Thursday, some colleges remain closed
Hernando County schools will reopen Thursday. The district noted that bus transportation is likely to be delayed, and may not be available in some coastal areas. “Students impacted by coastal flooding will be provided an excused absence,” it said in its announcement.
Pasco-Hernando State College campuses will be closed and classes are cancelled on Thursday due to the ongoing recovery efforts. Normal operations are expected to resume on Friday.
Saint Leo University resumes classes Thursday at all campuses except in Savannah, Georgia. Campus, online and education centers, including Tampa, MacDill and Key West, will be open.
Nova Southeastern University’s Jacksonville campus remains closed. The university’s Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers campuses reopen Thursday. Student or staff who experienced damage should contact their program director or supervisor to determine next steps. — Jeffrey S. Solochek and Divya Kumar
3:58 p.m. Emergency room opens its doors again
AdventHealth North Pinellas’ emergency room will resume normal operations today at 7 p.m. The hospital was one of four that closed because of Hurricane Idalia. — Christopher O’Donnell
3:56 p.m. Courtney Campbell Causeway fully open
The eastbound lanes of the Courtney Campbell Causeway have reopened, according to a social media post by the Clearwater Police Department. The westbound lanes were already open. — Tony Marrero
3:44 p.m. Transit to resume Thursday
The Hillsborough Transit Authority (HART) is returning to regular weekday service Thursday, but select trips may be delayed because of staffing levels and possible road detours.
The TECO Line Streetcar System will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. HART retail sales windows at transit centers will be open regular hours, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and customer service will be available 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.
Customers can call 813-254-4278 for information or to make paratransit reservations.
In Pasco, the GOPasco bus service also resumes Thursday as road conditions allow. Rides will be free all day Thursday. Regular fares will resume Friday.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority also said it plans to resume service Thursday. — C.T. Bowen
3:30 p.m. Feeling fortunate in Tampa
Rodney Rodriguez cleaned up debris washed up from the Hillsborough River at his house in Ridgewood Park just north of downtown Tampa. His son said the red ants biting his ankles were the worst part of the cleanup, but they were extremely lucky.
”This is nothing compared to what you see on TV. A little clean up, no big deal,” the son, named Rodney Rodriguez II, said. Dog Laila supervised from the driveway. Earlier in the day the river waters had been estimated to be 20 feet up from the banks, but by mid-afternoon had receded. — Sue Carlton
3:23 p.m. Aerial footage of Hillsborough flooding
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister posted a video on X, formerly known as Twitter, of aerial damage assessments earlier in the day. It shows dramatic flooding in the Bayshore Boulevard area in Tampa.
3:17 p.m. Colleges begin to announce reopenings
Hillsborough Community College will be reopening its campuses Thursday. The University of Florida will also reopen campuses Thursday.
The University of Tampa announced it intends to reopen Thursday at noon, but cannot reopen until mandatory evacuation orders are lifted for Hillsborough County. Official updates will be shared here. The University of South Florida also planned to reopen Thursday but will make an official announcement here late Wednesday afternoon. — Divya Kumar
3:12 p.m. Picking up the pieces in Tarpon Springs
At least two feet of water blocked the roads in some parts of Tarpon Springs, and water flooded homes and businesses.
Inside Katherine’s Linens & Gifts, a few inches of water covered the floor. At Chalkis Mediterranean Market, packages of noodles floated.
Selena Dunn, 34, used two cups to scrape water out of her bedroom’s soggy carpet. The flooding had been ankle-deep in her family’s home that morning, she said. Read more from our team’s dispatch. — Sam Ogozalek and Ivy Ceballo
3:10 p.m. Storm surge receding from Clearwater Beach
Storm surge had receded enough on portions of Clearwater Beach Wednesday afternoon for city workers to go out with front end loaders, dump trucks and street sweepers and begin clearing sand and debris from roadways.
During the peak of Hurricane Idalia’s impact early that morning, water had risen between 4 and 6 feet on some parts of the beach, said Jevon Graham, Clearwater Fire and Rescue division chief of emergency management.
During the city’s first evaluation around daybreak, Graham said workers could only make it out to the roundabout near the entrance to the beach before they had to let waters subside. But by afternoon, enough of the beach was accessible for the public works department to begin clearing debris and fallen trees and scooping sand out of sidewalks and roadways. Because sustained winds stayed below 40 mph, Graham said the damage was less than what could have been with stronger gusts.
”We were extremely lucky in the sense that we didn’t have a whole lot of wind,” Graham said.
Graham said some low-lying areas in the south beach section and residential north beach are still inundated and inaccessible as of Wednesday afternoon, where storm surge was still around 3 feet.
The Memorial Causeway bridge remained closed to visitors and residents and its reopening will be coordinated with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. — Tracey McManus
3:05 p.m. Howard Frankland Bridge reopens
The Howard Frankland Bridge, which had been closed, re-opened in both directions Wednesday afternoon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Read updated information on bridge closures here. — Jack Prator
3 p.m. Afternoon forecast: Tampa Bay storm surge has passed
The National Weather Service said it’s safe to say storm surge has passed, while the Tampa Bay area is still experiencing “higher than normal tide.”
The storm surge warning for the region remains in effect, however, because of the water levels, which are around 2 to 4 feet in affected areas.
Rodney Wynn, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay office, said the area should have seen the worst of the storm by now.
”We’re seeing the water levels starting to drop as well,” Wynn said. “So, that’s good news for everybody.”
Hurricane Idalia was about 10 miles north-northwest of Waycross, Georgia, and about 100 miles west-southwest of Savannah, according to the 2 p.m. update.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds have steadily decreased since it made landfall and at 2 p.m. were at 75 mph, which is a Category 1. Idalia was moving quickly northeast at about 20 mph.
— Jack Prator
2:50 p.m. Update on health care facility evacuations
As of Wednesday afternoon, 95 health care facilities — including nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals — had reported their evacuations to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. Bailey Smith, a spokesperson for the agency, said some of those facilities that self-reported may have chosen not to evacuate as Idalia shifted.
Agency employees are contacting health care facilities in affected areas to get an update on generator status, and employees will also visit the sites to conduct health surveys, Smith said.
— Romy Ellenbogen
2:24 p.m. Will Tampa Bay schools reopen Thursday?
Districts are weighing several factors before making their announcements. This story explains.
— Jeffrey S. Solochek
2:09 p.m. Damage in Pasco County
Brian McCarty, 55, moved to the Sea Ranch on the Gulf community two months ago. He chose the quiet waterside community in Hudson, lined by canals, to be close to his daughter, who had recently relocated to Spring Hill.
He wasn’t expecting his stay would be so short-lived.
”It’s done,” McCarty said on Wednesday afternoon, after storm waters flooded his home with at least a foot of water. “It’s all gone — we’ll need new furniture, everything.”
McCarty and his wife evacuated to his daughter’s home on Tuesday ahead of the storm.
”I grabbed the generator and grabbed the dogs and got out of here,” he said.
When he returned Wednesday morning, he found his front door jammed — a 100-pound plant had floated across the living room, blocking the entrance.
McCarty was one several Sea Ranch residents whose homes flooded early Wednesday morning, when storm surge from Idalia coupled with the high tide caused heavy street flooding. Together with his friend, Juston Keller, 34, McCarty helped to secure a fellow neighbor’s boat, a 24-foot deck boat, which had floated away during the storm.
”We just thought it was going to be a regular thunderstorm,” said Keller. “Until about 6 a.m. and the high tide — that’s the only reason we got hit, because of the high tide.”
— Helen Freund
1:58 p.m. Video shows flooding around Tampa Bay
A Tampa Bay Times video captures footage around the region of impassable roads and flooded neighborhoods.
— Aya Diab
1:54 p.m. Tampa mayor surveys impact
Mayor Jane Castor ventured out of Tampa’s emergency operations center Wednesday afternoon to survey Idalia’s impact on the city.
”The worst of it is over for us,” she said from the passenger seat of a black Suburban.
Beyond the windshield stretched a city that had — yet again — been spared from a major hurricane.
The tide remained high and the air remained thick, but glimpses of blue sky were beginning to peak through the clouds.
Castor opened her phone and clicked the weather app. The water, she read, would soon be receding.
— Olivia George
1:49 p.m. An artistic moment in Gulfport
GULFPORT — Just before high tide Wednesday afternoon, Nicholas Holman, 29, walked across 22nd Avenue S, toward the beach, to see how far he could get. At 30th Avenue S, three blocks from Boca Ciega Bay, police blocked Beach Boulevard because of flooding.
Holman took off his sneakers, waded through ankle-deep water and set up an easel facing the historic casino. He wanted to paint the aftermath of the hurricane.
“I love the contrast of nature and buildings, building things where they shouldn’t be, watching what happens,” he said, brushing broad streaks of red across a page in his travel notebook.
Holman used to live in Gulfport, but moved to St. Louis a few years ago. He came back to visit friends on Monday, just in time for the storm. “For me,” he said, “this is like capturing a stamp in time.”
— Lane DeGregory
1:30 p.m. Downed tree at the Governor’s Mansion
Tallahassee emerged from Hurricane Idalia relatively unscathed and crews were quickly restoring power to the Capital City. Aside from a few downed trees — including one at the Governor’s Mansion — the effects of the hurricane did not appear to match officials’ fears.
First Lady Casey DeSantis posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that a 100-year-old oak tree fell at the mansion while she and their three children were at home.
″Mason, Madison, Mamie and I were home at the time, but thankfully no one was injured,” she wrote.
As many as 44,000 customers were without power Wednesday morning, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, but the city’s utility was quickly restoring power. Officials feared the worst for Tallahassee, which has never seen a major hurricane enter Apalachee Bay in recorded history. Hurricane Idalia veered east of the city, which saw heavy rain and gusts up to 53 mph by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm left behind cool 77-degree weather.
— Lawrence Mower
1:15 p.m. Dramatic drone video from Big Bend
HORSESHOE BEACH — Times reporter Max Chesnes shot the first drone footage of the Horseshoe Beach area (on the coast roughly due west of Gainesville) after Hurricane Idalia bulldozed through. Watch it here.
And hear how residents in this area are already beginning the hard work of cleanup in the aftermath of the storm. One Dixie County resident quickly reached out to a neighbor to deliver some news:
“Hey Rick, it’s David. Your roof’s off your trailer, buddy.”
— Max Chesnes and Kirby Wilson
1:10 p.m. What to do if your home floods
Homeowners across the Tampa Bay area are coming to terms with devastating flooding in the wake of Hurricane Idalia. Storm surge swelled as high as 4 feet and water levels could continue to rise as an afternoon high tide comes in.
If your home flooded, make sure to shut off the power, start drying out your house now and contact your insurance provider. For more tips, check out our guide.
— Rebecca Liebson
1:05 p.m. Number of deaths uncertain
TALLAHASSEE — In the immediate few hours after Idalia’s eye passed out of Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said there were no confirmed fatalities as of yet.
About 100 people were confirmed by Florida officials to be staying in mandatory evacuation zones in Levy County, and about 50 were staying in Taylor County, according to Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. Guthrie said he’s sure more people did stay, but those numbers are what they confirmed from having state and local law enforcement knock on area doors. Search and rescue units are deployed, but that search may take longer than it did with Hurricane Ian, Guthrie said.
Unlike in Fort Myers, Florida’s Big Bend region is much more rural, making houses farther apart and putting more obstacles on the roads. The most impacted area is Perry, a city in Taylor County, Guthrie said. There, some houses caught on fire and had the roofs knocked off.
About 250,000 homes in Florida, the majority in the affected Big Bend area, are without power, DeSantis said. About 262,000 homes had their power knocked down but then restored.
DeSantis said the state was “still assessing what is going on in the ground” in places that saw the initial impact, and he expects to travel to some of those areas later today.
— Romy Ellenbogen
1:02 p.m. Tampa International Airport to reopen
Tampa International Airport will reopen Wednesday afternoon for arriving flights only, the airport announced. It expects to go back to full operations by early Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, the other airports managed by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority will stay closed until Thursday. Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands had “significant flooding,” the press release said.
— Bernadette Berdychowski
1 p.m. Hillsborough road closures update
Road closures in Hillsborough County due to Hurricane Idalia now total 10. They are:
- Providence Run Boulevard and Redbridge Drive in Brandon where a tree is blocking the road
- Park Drive at McMullen Road in the Riverview area
- Memorial Highway and Dana Shores
- Riverview Drive
- U.S. 41 between Big Bend Road and Ohio Street
- 50th Street and Madison Avenue
- Sheldon Road and Moore Road
- Gulf City Road
- 19th Avenue closed at 14th Street N.W. in Ruskin
- Causeway Boulevard and 47th Street
— C.T. Bowen
12:57 p.m. The status of storm surge in Tampa Bay
In an indication floods could recede soon, storm surge appeared to be decreasing throughout Wednesday morning.
— Langston Taylor and Teghan Simonton
12:50 p.m. The scene near landfall
STEINHATCHEE — Daniel Dickert had gotten as far through the floodwaters as he figured he could make it in his truck, so he got out and waded.
The Steinhatchee River was still rippling around waterfront homes a couple hours after Hurricane Idalia knifed inland through the Big Bend, a rural sliver that prides itself as “Old Florida” — and that hadn’t taken such a devastating blow for more than a century.
“I’ve never seen the water so high,” said Dickert, 54.
— Zachary T. Sampson and Douglas R. Clifford
12:45 p.m. Pasco’s flood waters came fast
For some Hudson residents who decided to brave Hurricane Idalia from home, Wednesday’s early morning flood waters were a rude wake-up call.
— Ian Hodgson
12:40 p.m. Worst may be yet to come along Alafia River
Pam Marshall has lived in her home close to the Alafia River since 2010.
It had never flooded until today as storm surge from Hurricane Idalia caused the river to spill its banks, closing roads and inundating homes that are normally safe from the river.
— Christopher O’Donnell
12:31 p.m. Historical context in Oldsmar
As former mayor of Oldsmar and founder of the Oldsmar Historical Society, Jerry Beverland is certain that the hardest his city has been hit by a hurricane was in 1921 when the water extended from Old Tampa Bay to Tampa Road about a mile away.
”Whatever history is not true, I make it true,” the 88-year-old said with a laugh. “But this is true.”
The worst he’s seen it since moving near Shore Drive in 1966 was Hurricane Elena in 1985, when the water made it about half a mile to St. Petersburg Drive. Hurricane Idalia is the second worst he’s witnessed. The bay water typically stops short of the mangroves but today spread like a sheet across R.E. Olds Park and Shore Drive, about 50 yards or so.
While the water remained by 11 a.m., it had receded into the bay about two blocks over, just enough to allow people to walk out onto the park’s pier.
The Tampa Bay Times spoke to around a dozen people who were either at the park or lived near it. None had heard of any extensive damage caused by the storm. Just the flooding, they said, which they expect whenever a major storm hits.
”This is the worst I remember it being,” said Keith Knuth, 48, who has lived across from the park for seven years in a house his grandmother previously lived in for 40. “But I’m sure it’ll be worse one day.”
— Paul Guzzo
12:24 p.m. Stay out of floodwaters if possible
If you’re in an area with flooding, it’s best to stay out of the water.
Floodwaters can be dangerous for many reasons, containing things that can be harmful to our health.”We don’t know exactly what is in floodwater at any given point in time,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns in its guide to dealing with floodwater after a disaster or emergency.
Some of those things, according to the CDC, can include: human and animal waste, downed power lines, household waste including hazardous chemicals, wild or stray animals such as rodents and snakes, and more. Fire ants are known to cluster together and float.
— Michelle Stark
12:01 p.m. Feeling fortunate in a Pass-a-Grille apartment
Mary Runion, 54, and her neighbors at the Bali apartments on Pass-a-Grille were up all night weathering the storm together. Their two-story apartment building, built in 1950, is between the Gulf of Mexico and the Intercoastal Waterway, in the center of the strip of sand, two blocks to water on each side.
She didn’t get flooding in her first-floor apartment, and the electricity stayed on, but the sewer went out sometime overnight so she has to go to a friend’s house to shower and use the bathroom.
“We put out sandbags. That’s about all you can do. And I’m glad we all stayed to ride it out together,” she said.
Wednesday around noon, when the tide was coming in, she said the gulf waters were up to the seawall but not really flooding the beachside road.
“This was an unusual storm,” she said. “All of the flooding so far is on the Intercoastal side.”
The shops along Eighth Avenue are all okay, she said. The Red, White and Blue and Wharf restaurants on the Intercoastal all got flooded.
“Once again,” Runion said, “we were very fortunate.”
— Lane DeGregory
11:59 a.m. Tampa officials: expect surge to worsen with high tide
Tampa officials are feeling grateful, but warning residents to stay off the roads as the impacts of storm surge from Hurricane Idalia are expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon with high tide.
”We have thankfully not suffered a great deal of damage in our community,” Mayor Jane Castor said at a 11:30 a.m. news conference. But, she added, the tide was still rising.
Water has swallowed Bayshore Boulevard, the Riverwalk and elsewhere in low-lying pockets across the city, which is home to 126 miles of waterfront. The Hillsborough River has spilled into Plant Park and taken over multiple streets in the Riverbend neighborhood.The Gandy Bridge to Pinellas is open in both directions but closures on the Westshore on-ramp will likely remain in place until at least 5 p.m., Castor said.
Rescue crews have had to assist stalled vehicles that ventured into water-clogged streets, officials said.
Tampa Police Department is using a highwater vehicle to bring people to and from Davis Island’s Tampa General Hospital, according to spokesperson Adam Smith.
The city’s drone team continues to survey the condition of roadways and drains. Meanwhile, the mayor is upbeat.
”The city of Tampa expects to be open for business tomorrow at 8 a.m.,” she said.
— Olivia George
11:54 a.m. A scene from Redington Shore
In Redington Shores, Rob Schoos expected that most of the flooding in his beachfront neighborhood would come from the nearby Gulf of Mexico.
But early this morning, Schoos and his neighbors were surprised to find that water from the Intercostal had posed a greater threat.
The first surge came around 1:30 a.m., Schoos said, meeting the gulf water about three hours later.
”We have pretty high dunes on our beach, so that really helped keep the gulf in check,” Schoos said Wednesday morning.
Still, he said that this was the most intense storm experience he’s had since he moved here from Chicago 10 years ago. Last year, as Hurricane Ian approached, Schoos said his neighborhood became “a ghost town.”
Everyone evacuated to higher ground.This year they chose to stay.
“It was almost like a social experiment,” Schoos said. “Everybody stayed.”
Although standing water is still present throughout his neighborhood, Schoos said his house — a 1950s single-story bungalow — didn’t have any damage.
“Just 6 inches of water in the garage,” he said. “But we’ll see what the tides bring.”
— Lauren Peace
11:50 a.m. Tampa Bay remains under storm surge warning
The hurricane warning, from the middle of Longboat Key to the Suwanee river — including Tampa Bay — was lowered to a tropical storm warning in an 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
Much of Florida’s west coast, including Tampa Bay, remained under a storm surge warning.
The level of storm surge expected in Tampa Bay also diminished slightly, and forecasters are now expecting 3 to 5 feet of surge locally.
Hurricane Idalia’s intensity has decreased since its landfall, and at 11 a.m. the storm’s maximum sustained wind were about 90 mph. The storm was about 20 miles south-south west of Valdosta, Ga. and about 165 miles southwest of Savannah. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from Idalia’s center and tropical storm-force winds extend about 230 miles.
— Michaela Mulligan
11:43 a.m. How to report property damage in Hillsborough
In Hillsborough, owners of property damaged by Hurricane Idalia can report the damage online to the office of Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez.
”We understand that many of our citizens have been affected by Hurricane Idalia,” Henriquez said in a news release. “We want to make it as easy as possible for them to report damage to their property and ensure they’re able to receive any tax protections due to them by state law when making repairs to or replacing their property.”
Property owners can report property damage online at: https://dmz.hcpafl.org/storm/
Property owners should document any damage with photographs and other records.
Henriquez’ office will review all damage reports and, if possible, adjust ad valorem property values as needed.
Adjustments won’t be reflected until the 2024 tax notices. The online reporting system already is available. Beginning Thursday, the office also will accept phone calls reporting property damage at 813-272-6100. Also, on Thursday, residents can chat online with an office representative from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at www.hcpafl.org
— C.T. Bowen
11:18 a.m. Hillsborough authorities block intersections in the Town ‘N Country community
Hillsborough County deputies blocked several intersections crossing Hillsborough Avenue in the Town ‘N Country community along Rocky Creek, which flows into Old Tampa Bay. Waters flooded into the roadways, lapping up against the homes and buildings closest to the creek.
Volunteers from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief kayaked down what usually is Rocky Creek Drive, making welfare checks on elderly neighbors.
Meanwhile, small groups congregated to watch the trucks and cars surging through the waterlogged streets.
“People are crazy,” one man who didn’t want to be named said as he made video recordings of the traffic.
Nearby, though, the storm barely registered, as joggers ran along the Town ‘N Country Greenway trail, which had barely a twig out of place.
— Jeffrey S. Solochek
11:14 a.m. Fatal crash in Pasco amid storm conditions
A 40-year-old Spring Hill man died in a one-vehicle accident today as he drove in Hurricane Idalia’s inclement weather in eastern Pasco County.
The Florida Highway Patrol said the man, whose identity was not released, was driving a Ford Ranger eastbound on Saint Joe Road at 6:15 a.m. when he lost control of the vehicle, left the road and struck a tree.
He died at the scene.
The accident, east of Interstate 75, occurred during inclement weather and the driver was traveling too fast for the conditions, the Highway Patrol said.
— C.T. Bowen
11:08 a.m. Rescues happening in Shore Acres
St. Petersburg firefighters started rescuing people from flooded homes in Shore Acres by mid-morning.
Water had started rushing into Janecia Wallace’s house at 6 a.m. At sunrise, it was coming into her room.
”We were loading water into buckets in our sinks and bathroom,” said the 18-year-old Shore Acres resident. “It’s come in before, but never this high or this bad.”
The St. Petersburg Fire Department arrived to ferry her, along with nine other Shore Acre residents, to safety just across the bridge that leads to the neighborhood.
By 10:30 a.m., she and her two younger siblings, along with a cousin, were standing on the side of the road, waiting for their grandmother to pick them up. Other evacuees loaded into a St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation vehicle, which would take them to higher ground.
— Hannah Critchfield
11:05 a.m. Some areas of St. Pete faring better than others
For those traveling between Central Avenue and 54th Avenue N along 28th street, little evidence of a storm remains. In contrast to the city’s downtown, there’s no standing water along the corridor, no downed branches blocking neighborhood roads, which were ghostly in the early morning but had gained traffic by 11 a.m.
People were out walking dogs dressed in raincoats. Others made pitstops for gas or coffee. Bikers returned cautiously to bike lanes, blasting music from bluetooth speakers as they rode.
— Lauren Peace
10:59 a.m. Idalia leaves St. Pete roads impassable and neighborhoods flooded
As powerful Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region Wednesday morning, St. Petersburg awoke to flooding in low-lying areas of the city that made popular roads and walkways lining the bay impassable.
People emerged, some with dogs and kids in tow, to survey the damage. Water, roughly 2 feet deep, poured over the rainboots of residents in Snell Isle. A paddle boarder navigated the high water along Coffee Pot Boulevard, snapping photographs of a submerged silver Lexus. Read more here.
— Hannah Critchfield and Jennifer Glenfield
10:51 a.m. In St. Pete Beach, floodwater remains
Across the Corey Causeway in St. Pete Beach, portions of Boca Ciega Drive and Blind Pass Road remained flooded with roughly a foot of water around 10 a.m. Some areas saw increased flooding, about two to three feet, as the tide continued to roll in.
Many homes in the area did not appear to have flooded, with the water line approaching just beyond driveways and, in some cases, front porches. The streets remained mostly empty, save for a few news crews and emergency vehicles.
A few residents who chose not to evacuate wandered around in calf-high waters to survey the area.
A woman wearing shorts and standing in water reaching up to just below her knees said she was thankful to still have power and cable.On the corner of Blind Pass Road and 86th Avenue, Lily Gumos, 11, took advantage of the temporary waterways by paddleboarding through the streets with her French Bulldog, Lakai, on board while her father stood nearby and watched.
”This isn’t that bad,” Josh Gumos, 32, said, adding that his home didn’t flood or lose power. “The last one was way worse — way more trees and more wind.”
Over by Caddy’s in Treasure Island, five-to-six-foot waves lapped at the shore as the tide rushed in. The beach was completely empty except for a few tourists surveying the scene.
Antonio Silva, 54, and his cousin, Maria Cristina Silva, were in town with family visiting from Maryland when they decided to ride out the storm at a Treasure Island vacation home.Maria Cristina Silva, wearing an American flag headband, said she loved Florida and wasn’t going to let the inclement weather cut the trip short.
”I told them, we can tell people we were in the middle of a hurricane!” She said.
— Helen Freund and Chris Urso
10:46 a.m. Tampa International Airport not heavily damaged
Tampa International Airport wasn’t heavily damaged by Hurricane Idalia, the airport said in a press statement Wednesday morning.There was flooding on the south side of the airfield but it didn’t affect the runways, the airport said. Tampa International Airport said it could announce reopening times later in the morning.
— Bernadette Berdychowski
10:41 a.m. Hillsborough officials urge those near Alafia River to leave
It is not too late to evacuate your home in Hillsborough County, emergency officials stressed Wednesday morning.
Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley urged residents near the Alafia River to seek higher ground and said residents who already evacuated should remain there.
”This storm is not over,” Dudley said at a morning news briefing. “...If you live near the Alafia River I urge you: Go to a safe location immediately. The waters will continue to rise throughout the day.”
Hurricane Idalia’s storm surge pushed the Alafia River to major flood stage of 6.56 feet at about 8 a.m., the county said.
It is expected to continue rising.
High tide is 2:28 p.m. River flooding will affect roads and neighborhoods from the river mouth at Tampa Bay through Bell Shoals Road to the east, with the area along the Alafia River between Gibsonton and U.S. 301 facing the greatest threat, the county said. Riverview Drive already is closed.
Other closed roads are: U.S. 41 between Big Bend Road and Ohio Street; 50th Street and Madison Avenue; Sheldon Road and Moore Road; Gulf City Road; Ninth Avenue at 14th Street N.W. in Ruskin; and Causeway Boulevard and 47th Street.
”Many more roads” are expected to close throughout the day as flooding continues, said Dudley.Approximately 1,375 people took shelter at the county’s 10 shelters, said Hillsborough Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Joseph Mauer.
— C.T. Bowen
10:34 a.m. Tampa Electric Company warns of scammers
At a 10 a.m. news conference, Tampa Electric Company urged customers to stay vigilant against scams and fraudulent activities.
”Scammers strike when we’re distracted,” said Kim Selph, director of communications and marketing for Tampa Electric.
“We’ve been hearing from customers that threat actors are calling and demanding payment over the phone and asking people to pay their bill immediately.”
Selph said that the company will never demand payment over the phone.
She advised customers to hang up and report the scam calls to Crimestoppers at 800-873-TIPS.
— Justin Garcia
10:16 a.m. At Pass-a-Grille apartment complex, saltwater seeps in
Barb Schueler, 55, rode out the storm with her boyfriend in their first-floor apartment at the Coronado in Pass-a-Grille.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, they were wringing out “towels, sheets, every piece of clothing we have” — and bracing for high tide at noon.
“Oh my god!” she said while I was talking to her. “I just opened a window and watched a jellyfish swim by.”
They were up all night, trying to soak up the saltwater that was seeping under the 20 sandbags and pieces of plywood they had propped against their door.
The next-door neighbors, who only had three sandbags, evacuated — and got about 2 feet of water in their kitchen.
“Their sandbags just floated away,” Schueler said.
”We just stayed to defend our home, and I’m glad we did,” she said. “I don’t know if it was the smartest move, but we saved this apartment and everything in it.”
She never lost power. But she doesn’t know how long they’ll be stuck on the beach since all the bridges are closed.
“I’m not worried about that part,” she said. The Longboat Key restaurant where she works is closed anyway.
— Lane DeGregory
10:06 a.m. In Tampa, residents survey aftermath
Much of downtown Tampa emerged from the storm early Wednesday largely unscathed from surge.
The Riverwalk, as of about 8:30 a.m., was flooded near the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Tampa Police blocked off a section of Ashley Drive, near MacDill Park on the Riverwalk, because of street flooding.
The Hillsborough River edged into Plant Park. But the city was quiet, with little rain and wind. Some people were seen walking their dogs.
Austin Schneiderman, 29, took his 2-year-old Golden Doodle, Moose, out for a stroll to check out the Hillsborough River flooding. Schneiderman, a sewer systems inspector who focuses on projects in Georgia, works from home in Tampa.
He opted not to leave as the hurricane barreled up the coast because he lives in evacuation zone B.
”Isn’t too bad,” he said, looking out at the river. Further east, there was worse flooding.
Streets were full of water in Palmetto Beach, a Tampa neighborhood on McKay Bay. Curious onlookers congregated near DeSoto Park, watching as at least a foot of water swept onto S 26th Street.
An Ybor City man drove into the deluge on a dirt bike, going to check on a friend’s home. He turned around once water got in his exhaust pipe. Residents trudged through knee-deep water in other parts of the neighborhood.
— Sam Ogozalek
9:54 a.m. C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Facility evacuated ahead of storm
Almost 150 veterans were evacuated from C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Facility in an operation that ran late into Tuesday afternoon as Hurricane Idalia edged north.
The veteran’s facility is located close to the intracoastal waterway near Madeira Beach and is at risk from storm surge. Patients were transported to a number of veterans facilities across Florida, including West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa, and to the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Affairs medical centers.
Patients will be relocated back to the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center as soon as it is safe, the release states.
— Christopher O’Donnell
9:50 a.m. In New Port Richey, people hope for luck but wait and see
In New Port Richey’s Flor-a-mar neighborhood, where more than a dozen canals border streets of waterfront homes, Renee Anderson watched her kayaks bob as water flooded her street.
For the most part, Anderson got lucky, she said.Her house didn’t flood like others at the front of the neighborhood did.
But a stray boat that got loose from somebody else’s dock was sitting in her yard.
”I think we dodged a bullet, but it’s not high tide yet, so we’ll wait and see,” Anderson said.
— Lauren Peace
9:45 a.m. Mobile home park in Port Richey got lucky
The manager of the Shalimar Village mobile home park, Judy Klingensmith, said they got no water, no damage, no flooding east of U.S. 19 in Port Richey. More than half of her 179 residents evacuated, mostly the new ones.
“I’m at work. The office is open. We got lucky. We got spared.”
— Lane DeGregory
9:32 a.m. In Tarpon Springs, people assess damage
In the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Jacquelyn and Keaton Tunstall assessed storm damage near their waterfront restaurant and bar this morning.
Flooding by the docks was waist high this morning, Keaton Tunstall said.He rode out the storm at the restaurant — Rusty Bellies — with local fishing captains so they could keep an eye on the boats.
They fed on burgers as the storm rolled in. Tunstall likened the wind to what he saw during Hurricane Ian.
He said the surge didn’t come in until early morning.”The water’s just started dropping,” he said.
— Lauren Peace
9:17 a.m. In St. Pete, people with flooded homes hope rain doesn’t continue
Kim Tarver, 55, awoke this morning to find water on her bedroom floor. At first she thought her air conditioner was leaking.
“But then I saw the water was everywhere,” she said.
Rain and storm surge had flooded Salt Creek, pushing water up and across East Harbor Drive S., where Tarver lives just south of Bartlett Park in St. Petersburg. Tarver had stayed up late watching coverage of Hurricane Idalia. She woke up once at 5 a.m. and didn’t see any water. When got up a couple hours later, her feet got wet. At first the water was only about an inch deep in her bedroom, but an hour later it was closer to five inches, even deeper in her living room.
She knew it was time to get out, but the water was above her knees in the front yard. She worried it might get even deeper if she moved closer to the flooded creek. She also worried about what might be swimming around in the water. She instead worked her way through the side yard to higher ground on 22nd Avenue S., where she watched with other residents of the neighborhood as the water rose close to the floorboards of her white sedan, still parked in her driveway
.”Ms. Kim, what about your car?” a neighbor asked.
Everyone agreed the water in the street was too deep to try to get the car out.
”That’s not good. I need that car” she said.
Tarver had moved into the rental home about two months earlier, after living in the Gandy area of St. Petersburg. She said the water in her home had already soaked the sofa she recently purchased.
“I didn’t think this would happen right here,” she said. “I sure hope it doesn’t rain any more.”
— Graham Brink
8:57 a.m. In Gulfport many businesses appear spared so far
Floodwaters in Gulfport along Shore Boulevard reached close to three feet shortly after 7 a.m. Waves crested near the entrance to Bert and Walter Williams Pier and flooded a third of Veteran’s Park.
Behind the Gulfport Casino, a large sailboat sat against a dock after coming loose from its mooring. Around 4 a.m., the water was at its highest, said O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille owner Joe Guenther, 53, and had reached ankle-height inside the Shore Boulevard restaurant.
Guenther said he stayed up all night at the bar, anticipating the worst.
”We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “Feeling so grateful — so blessed.”
After evacuating his family to Fort Myers last year ahead of Hurricane Ian, Guenther said he feared this storm would take a similar last-minute turn.
”All I could think was, is it going to turn? Not seeing it take a right was definitely a blessing,” said Guenther, who said he hopes to open the popular bar by 11 a.m., expecting a good crowd of regulars looking to celebrate their luck with mimosas and Bloody Marys.
With the exception of a few tree limbs down and some scattered debris, most businesses appeared to have been spared serious damage and most had not lost power. On Beach Boulevard South, the water line reached just past 31st Avenue South, in front of Pia’s Trattoria.
Pia’s executive chef, Jonathan Summers, said the restaurant had very little water inside and said he expected they would open later in the day.
”We’ll see what happens later,” he said, referring to the impending high tide expected around noon. Other parts of Gulfport closer to Clam Bayou and the City of Gulfport Municipal Marina saw worse flooding, and several streets remained impassable as of 8:30 a.m
— Helen Freund
8:51 a.m. Photo shows flooding in St. Pete
8:47 a.m. See Idalia flooding around Tampa Bay on Wednesday morning
A Tampa Bay Times video captures footage around Tampa Bay of water-logged streets. See the video below:
8:36 a.m. The Tampa Bay area is likely to see peak storm surge early this afternoon during high tide
Areas across Tampa Bay were flooded Wednesday morning as the impacts of Hurricane Idalia’s outer bands bore down on the area, and officials warned water levels would continue to rise in some areas ahead of the afternoon’s high tide.
The Tampa Bay area remains under a storm surge warning Wednesday and the National Hurricane Center was anticipating up to 6 feet of storm surge. In coastal Pinellas areas like Madeira Beach, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and Gulfport, flooding had already begun.
Across the area, there was about 3 to 4 feet of surge, Nicole Carlisle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay office, said Wednesday morning. Read more here.
— Michaela Mulligan
8:24 a.m. Downtown St. Pete sees water flooding roads
In downtown St. Petersburg, stretches of Bayshore Drive SE are completely flooded. Cars and bikers zoom down First Avenue SE and turn right onto Bayshore, only to be stopped in their tracks by the water lapping out of the bay.
”This is high tide now?” Al Bennett, 60, director of athletics, physical education and driver’s education for Pinellas County Schools, asks another passerby.
”Low tide,” answers Tom Kimler, 67, a retired firefighter.
”We could have a nasty flooding here,” Bennett remarks, looking at the waves to the left and right of him on the road.
”It’s nasty already,” Kimler says. Parts of First Street S are also impassible, starting near Third Avenue S and continuing southward. Even at low tide, the road leading to the entrance of the Dali Museum is submerged in about a foot-and-a-half of water.
— Hannah Critchfield
8:20 a.m. In Pasco, officials share images of intense flooding
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office shared on social media images of people wading thorough high waters and encouraged people to stay off the roads.
— Bethany Barnes
8:14 a.m. Hernando authorities order no access west of U.S. 19
Hernando County authorities issues a no access order to all residential areas west of U.S. 19 due to rapidly rising storm surge, according to a press release. Because of the risk, the area can no longer be accessed by emergency crews, authorities said.
Officials urged those who need rescue to call 911.
8:04 a.m. Hurricane Idalia makes landfall as Category 3 storm
The eye of Hurricane Idalia made landfall around 7:45 a.m. along the coast of Florida’s Big Bend area, near Keaton Beach, as a strong Category 3 storm.
— Michaela Mulligan
8:00 a.m. Tampa Bay power outages begin
Tampa Bay utilities were reporting that about 30,000 customers were without power just before 8 a.m. Wednesday as crews were poised to respond to power outages. Power outages caused by Idalia so far are below what occurred in the Tampa Bay area during Hurricane Ian last year. That storm, which made landfall more than 100 miles south of the bay area, caused about 500,000 total outages in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. It took several days to restore power to all customrs. Read more here.
— Dan Sullivan
7:59 a.m. Gov. DeSantis says state is “all hands on deck”
At a 6:30 a.m. news conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state has “all hands on deck” to confront the damage that Hurricane Idalia will cause as it makes landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region this morning.
The National Hurricane Center expects storm surge up to 16 feet at landfall, DeSantis said, and called the surge “life threatening.”As soon as the winds die down in the hardest hit areas, search and rescue efforts will begin, DeSantis said.
Eight urban search and rescue teams are ready to go, along with 33 ambulance teams and 5,500 National Guardsmen. The U.S. Coast Guard is on standby.The governor warned Floridians in Idalia’s path to stay put until the worst of the storm has passed.”We just hope that everybody stays safe.
Don’t put your life at risk by doing anything dumb at this point,” DeSantis said.As of the news conference, 54,000 households were out of power as Idalia bears down on Florida.
100,000 households that lost power already had it restored by some of the 30,000 plus linemen working around the state to restore power. The state said 1.2 million gallons of fuel has been stockpiled to fill any gas shortages and thousands of generators are ready to be deployed to areas that need power.
DeSantis urged those using personal generators to keep them out of the house and 20 feet away from all doors and windows, to prevent poisoning from the toxic fumes.The Florida Department of Transportation has 650 pieces of heavy equipment and trucks staged to handle anticipated widespread debris, along with downed trees and powerlines. DeSantis said that the state is also keeping an eye on areas in Florida’s Big Bend Region that are expected to receive a massive storm surge.
”It’s going to be a big big deal,” DeSantis said. “And it’s going to be very, very dangerous.”
— Justin Garcia
7:56 a.m. See Idalia flooding around Tampa Bay on Wednesday morning
Many areas around Tampa Bay flooded Wednesday morning as the region felt the effects of Idalia. Click here to see images.
— Ellen Clarke
7:47 a.m. Pasco authorities urge caution amid
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office posted on social media images of water-logged streets and urged people to stay off roads.
— Bethany Barnes
7:37 a.m. Tampa officials want residents to stay on alert
Top Tampa officials are feeling grateful Wednesday morning, but don’t want city residents to drop their guard yet.
”We are not completely in the clear,” said spokesperson Adam Smith, adding that flash flooding from heavy rain and storm surge are still concerns.
As of 7:30 a.m., there is flooding on waterfront Bayshore Boulevard and the Tampa Riverwalk.
Hillsborough County has about 3,500 power outages and the city has received “several reports of traffic signals that are out” and two reports of downed trees, Smith said. Throughout the night, police and fire rescue crews continued to respond to calls for service as winds did not exceed 50 mph, the cut off.
Approximately 300 people bundled into the three county-run shelters within city limits Tuesday night.
— Olivia George
7:34 a.m. Crystal River appears largely spared of major flooding
CRYSTAL RIVER — Two days ago, this coastal town famous for its manatee tours looked to be staring down the barrel of Idalia. But as the category 4 storm thrashed dozens of miles off of its gulf coast Wednesday morning, Crystal River appeared to largely be spared of major flooding.
The stretch of US-19 that runs through the town within sight of the water was passable. Coastal water burbled toward the top of the sea wall near waterfront homes on the gulf, but those too remained dry for now.
The tide was still running out, and wouldn’t crest again until nearly 5 p.m.
— Kirby Wilson
7:14 a.m. Water rushes in on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa
The Tampa Police Department posted on social media video of flooding on Bayshore Boulevard.
— Bethany Barnes
7:10 a.m. St. Pete’s Tropical Shores neighborhood flooding
As day broke on St Petersburg’s Tropical Shores neighborhood, there was more than a foot of water on some select places. The water had already gotten into a handful of garages.
— Graham Brink
7:07 a.m. Person rescued in St. Pete from mobile home
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue crews rescued a person from the flooded Twin City mobile home park on Gandy Boulevard early Wednesday.The St. Petersburg Police Department posted a video on social media showing flooding at the park located at 10636 Gandy Blvd. Crews rescued one person from the flooding, according to the post.
— Tony Marrero
6:48 a.m. St. Petersburg Police share flooding images
The St. Petersburg Police Department in a post on X shared photos of a flooded roadway, urging residents to take the danger seriously.
6:44 a.m. Pasco officials stress worst is yet to come
Early reports indicate that Pasco County has weathered the night without major damage, but county officials stressed that the worst is yet to come.
Roughly 3,600 residents were without power as of 6:30 a.m. mostly along the coastline, far fewer than expected.County crews overnight reported some localized flooding in Hudson Beach, but “nothing that you’d call major at all,” according to county spokesperson Ryan Huges.
Sustained winds along the southern coast of the county reached 25 mph overnight, with peaks hitting 35 mph. So far, no damage to buildings has been reported.
”Our phones really haven’t been ringing,” said Assistant Director of Emergency Management Laura Wilcoxen.But Wilcoxen stressed that the calm night shouldn’t give residents a false sense of security.
Flooding is expected to rise exponentially over the next six hours as the tide pushes storm surge inland.Some parts of the coast can still expect up to 9 feet of storm surge, she said. High tide is aligning with when rainwater flooding is expected to hit its peak.
The worst-case scenario, Wilcoxen said, is if flooding hits New Port Richey’s water treatment plant. If that happens, parts of the southern coast could experience sewage back ups and lose access to potable water.
Right now it’s important to stay sheltered and not return home until county officials give the all-clear, she said.
Some roadways are already starting to flood, and it will become increasingly dangerous to leave home as the morning progresses.”We are definitely blessed, but we’re thoughtful of what is to come,” Wilcoxen said. “This hurricane still has a lot of energy.”
Residents can report damage and flooding by calling (727) 847-2411 or on the MyPasco app.
— Ian Hodgson
6:36 a.m. Clearwater Police urge shelter, share flood photos
The Clearwater Police Department on a post on X shared photos of flooded roads and encouraged people to shelter.
- Bethany Barnes
6:26 a.m. Status of bridge closures
According to Florida Highway Patrol, the Skyway Bridge remains closed with wind speeds between 50-60 MPH.
The northbound lanes of the Howard Frankland Bridge are closed due to storm surge and flooding.
The eastbound lanes of the Courtney Campbell Causeway are closed due storm surge and flooding.
The Gandy Bridge is open as of this hour.
Everyone is encouraged to remain sheltered and stay off the highways at this time.
6:19 a.m. Pinellas closes access to barrier islands, residents included
Authorities closed off access to Pinellas County’s barrier islands early Wednesday as flooding from Hurricane Idalia swamped coastal areas.
Access to the islands has been closed to everyone including residents effective at 5:30 a.m., the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office announced.
The affected are: Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, St. Pete Beach, Tierra Verde and Treasure Island.
The sheriff’s office said it would provide updates when there are changes to the island closures. Read more here.
— Tony Marrero
5:48 a.m. Pass-A-Grille floods
In Pass-a-Grille, Max Sparra, 18, documented the chaos early Wednesday morning as water began to rush in around his home. The first floor of the 14-unit apartment complex he lives in off Pass-A-Grille Way was flooded. Water surrounded cars. The Times spoke to people who lived in the complex, and others in the Tampa Bay region in the first evacuation zone who planned to stay, on Tuesday in a story you can read here.
— Bethany Barnes
5:10 a.m. Treasure Island access limited
The city of Treasure Island is limiting access to people who have barrier island passes or can present identification showing a Treasure Island address.
The city said in a post on X that the Treasure Island Causeway is closed and that Treasure Island police will be patrolling and limiting access to people who have a barrier island reentry pass or have identification showing a Treasure Island address.
5 a.m. Idalia strengthens to Category 4 storm
Idalia has rapidly strengthened to a Category 4 storm and was nearing landfall in the Big Bend area, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. update.
The storm was expected to bring catastrophic impacts from storm surge inundation of 12 to 16 feet and destructive waves in the area between the Wakulla/Jefferson county line and Yankeetown.
Category 4 storms have maximum sustained winds of 136 to 150 mph.
3:30 a.m. Northbound lanes of Howard Frankland Bridge closed
The Florida Highway Patrol’s incident map showed the northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge has been closed to all traffic due to weather conditions.
3:05 a.m. Sunshine Skyway closed
The Florida Highway Patrol announced shortly after 3 a.m. that the Sunshine Skyway bridge was closed to all traffic because sustained winds in the area of the bridge were in excess of 50 mph.
3 a.m. Storm surge begins in Tampa Bay area
Parts of the region were underwater early Wednesday as Idalia pushed storm surge into coastal areas.
At about 1:30 a.m. the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office reported “significant flooding” in St. Pete Beach, with about 3 to 4 feet of water on Sunset Way. The office posted video of flooded areas on social media.
Pass-a-Grille Way in St. Pete Beach had also flooded by 2 a.m.
The City of Treasure Island posted video of floodwater on Gulf Boulevard and urged motorists not to drive on flooded roads.
The city also posted video of water overtaking the sea wall near Treasure Island City Hall on 108th Avenue, just west of Gulf Boulevard.
Storm surge was also pushing into downtown Gulfport.
Weather Nation posted video of storm surge over Beach Boulevard S.
Freelance documentarian Jonathan Petramala posted a photo showing floodwater rising near the Gulfport Casino on S Shore Boulevard.
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