Tropical Storm Idalia emerged Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico, prompting predictions that it might slam into Florida’s coasts as a hurricane, dumping up to 18 inches of rain on a territory already pummeled by historic Hurricane Ian less than a year ago.
Forecast of a Hurricane Intensity of the Tropical Storm Idalia
According to Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist at WeatherTiger in Florida, there are warning signs that tropical storm Idalia might reach major hurricane intensity, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph for Category 3 status, and it would be “naive” to disregard them. Truchelut stated on Sunday night that tropical storm Idalia remained in the northwest Caribbean and appeared to be developing “deep area” thunderstorm activity around its circulation core, which might cause the storm to intensify on Monday. Tropical storm Idalia had also shifted slightly east at 3 mph, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 45 mph.
“More and less damaging outcomes remain on the table,” said Truchelut, a forecaster for the USA TODAY Network. “However, the eastern Panhandle, Big Bend, and west-central Florida coasts are extremely vulnerable to storm surge, wind, and rain impacts from a potential major hurricane landfall Wednesday.” According to AccuWeather, several inches of rain could cause inland flooding in low-lying areas in central and northern Florida as early as Tuesday. Wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour are expected across much of northern and central Florida, with gusts of up to 80 miles per hour near the Florida Gulf Coast.
Several Warnings to Get Ready as Tropical Storm Idalia Arrives
AccuWeather said the Big Bend region of the Gulf Coast, which connects the Panhandle and peninsula, was at high risk of impact, warning of “life-threatening damaging winds, torrential rain, and storm surge flooding” as tropical storm Idalia closes in on the state, gaining strength as it sweeps across warm water in the Gulf. The storm might cause travel issues, with “significant airline delays” anticipated for flights into and out of the region on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to AccuWeather.
Forecasters said that the tropical storm Idalia was about 95 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, late Sunday, heading northeast at 3 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. Hurricanes have winds of 74 miles per hour or higher. According to the latest Hurricane Center estimates, tropical storm Idalia could make landfall in Florida on Wednesday with winds of up to 100 mph. That would classify it as a Category 2 hurricane.