Hurricane Idalia makes landfall in Florida as a dangerous Category 3 storm
Idalia may bring life-threatening storm surges to portions of the Florida Gulf Coast, as well as strong winds and significant flooding across Southeastern states.
FEMA is closely coordinating with affected states and stands ready to provide support. FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams are deployed to affected areas to provide support as needed and additional supplies and teams are on standby.
If you are in the forecast path for Idalia, take steps now to prepare for the impacts of this storm. Make sure your family, friends and neighbours understand the potential effects Idalia could bring to your area.
- Think about what you need to evacuate or shelter in place.
- Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn around, don’t drown.
- Have an emergency supply kit for your household and pets.
- Prepare for power outages.
The centre of Hurricane Idalia has slammed Florida’s Gulf Coast at dangerous Category 3 strength, inflicting deadly storm surges and catastrophic winds not seen in this region in 125 years while promising untold devastation far beyond the landfall zone.
Idalia moved ashore midmorning Wednesday near Keaton Beach in the Big Bend area – where the panhandle meets the peninsula – with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph and has begun an ominous trudge across Florida and the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina, where residents are urged to beware the sort of floods, strong winds and tornadoes already impacting Florida’s west coast, the National Hurricane Center said.
Here are other developments around the state:
• Evacuations in at least 28 counties: Alachua, Baker, Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam, Sarasota, Suwannee, Sumter, Taylor, Union, Volusia and Wakulla have all issued evacuation orders, some mandatory.
• Power knocked out: About 116,000 homes, businesses and other power customers had no electricity as of 7:25 a.m. Wednesday, according to PowerOutage.com.
• Travel halted: Hundreds of flights have been cancelled as Tampa International Airport suspended commercial operations and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport Terminal building closed Tuesday.
• Rescuers on standby: At least eight urban search-and-rescue teams, 33 ambulance strike teams and 5,500 National Guard members are ready, and the Coast Guard is on standby, officials said Wednesday morning.
• Hospitals suspend services: Patients were being transferred from at least three hospitals: HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital, HCA Florida Trinity West Hospital and HCA Florida West Tampa Hospital. Meanwhile, Tampa General Hospital was constructing a water-impermeable barrier to remain open for emergency care.
• Bridges will close: DeSantis warned residents in the path of Hurricane Idalia that once winds reach 40 mph or more, bridges will not be “safe to traverse” and will be shut down. High winds led officials to close the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which connects St. Petersburg to Manatee County, Pinellas County Emergency Management announced Wednesday morning.
• Schools and universities close: 50 county school districts have issued closures, as did dozens of college and university systems across Florida.
• Thousands of inmates evacuated: Roughly 4,000 inmates were evacuated or relocated to facilities better equipped to handle the storm, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
• Much of Florida is under a state of emergency: DeSantis has issued an emergency declaration to 49 of 67 Florida counties.
A rare extreme wind warning – issued in cases of life-threatening sustained winds of 115 mph or more – was issued for parts of the Big Bend region – including Dixie and Taylor counties, even as Idalia’s sustained winds slowed slightly around 7 a.m. from Category 4 strength.
“Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to the safe room in your shelter,” the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee warned. “Take action now to protect your life!”
A tornado watch also is in place for nearly 12 million people across central and northern Florida and southeast Georgia until 3 p.m., Wednesday, as conditions continue to deteriorate, with coastal streets and lots flooding in places including Tampa, St. Petersburg and Fort Myers Beach as ocean water pushes ashore, rain pours down and winds whip.