The Best to those enduring the Storm…
Hurricane Idalia moved quickly inland after making landfall along a sparsely populated stretch of Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning, toppling trees and flooding fishing villages while on a course to menace other parts of the Southeast. At least two storm-related deaths were reported on Florida’s slick roads.
Briefly a Category 4 storm overnight, Idalia had weakened to Category 1 strength by 11 a.m. Eastern time as its center moved into Georgia. But with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, it still presented a grave threat, and the National Hurricane Center warned of “catastrophic” storm surge.
“That’s our major concern,” said Lieutenant Scott Tummond with the sheriff’s office in Levy County, part of Florida’s Big Bend coast. “We’re looking at inland flooding for miles.”
The storm came ashore at 7:45 a.m. in Taylor County, about 90 miles southeast of the state capital of Tallahassee, where the lights briefly flickered in the emergency operations center as Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at an early morning news conference.
Here’s what to know:
At least partial evacuation orders were in place for 30 of Florida’s 67 counties as of early Wednesday. Some areas could be submerged by 12 to 16 feet of flooding and hit with destructive waves, according to the Hurricane Center.
After making landfall, the storm was expected to move toward the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina on Wednesday into Thursday, possibly remaining at hurricane strength, forecasters said. Officials in those states issued emergency declarations warning of heavy rain and flooding.
A storm surge warning was in effect early Wednesday along a 400-mile stretch from Englewood to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay, meaning more than half of Florida’s western coastline was at risk of water being pushed inland.
Two deaths from car crashes early Wednesday were attributed to the weather conditions, one in Gainesville and one in Pasco County, north of Tampa.
More than 260,000 customers in Florida were without power early Wednesday, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages across the United States. On Tuesday, Mr. DeSantis said that 25,000 utility workers were on standby, with 30,000 more headed to the state.
More than 900 flights at airports in Florida and Georgia were delayed or canceled on Wednesday, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service.
The Big Bend region, where the north-south portion of the Florida peninsula curves toward the east-west portion of the Panhandle, was last hit by Hurricane Hermine, a Category 1 storm, in 2016, when one person died. Here’s what to know about the Big Bend…..