Tropical Storm Idalia is gaining strength and expected to become a hurricane before it makes landfall in Florida later this week.
It is currently sustaining wind speeds of 65 miles per hour. When those speeds reach 74 miles per hour, it will become a Category 1 hurricane.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned of ‘life threatening’ storm surges and dangerous winds from the storms range, while about 20million Floridians made disaster preparations on Monday.
Forecasters currently believe Idalia will grow to become a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale – able to sustain wind speeds between 111 and 129 miles per hour.
‘This is going to be a major hurricane,’ Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference on Monday. ‘This is going to be a powerful hurricane and this is absolutely going to impact the state of Florida.’
Idalia is currently expected to make landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region on Wednesday morning. It is then expected to cut across to the peninsula’s Atlantic coast before heading north.
A large portion of the Sunshine State’s Gulf Coast is expected to see flooding, with some parts of the Big Bend preparing for up to 11 feet of floodwater.
Governor DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 46 of Florida’s 67 counties. Mandatory evacuations were also ordered for some parts of Levy County and Pasco County, including for the entire island of Cedar Key.
Low-lying parts of the Tampa Bay region have also been placed under evacuation orders.
Governor DeSantis asked Floridians across the state to prepare for emergency evacuations and loss of power. On Sunday, he asked residents to keep their gas tanks half-full in case they need to leave quickly.
‘If you are told to evacuate, you do not need to drive hundreds of miles, you do not need to leave the state of Florida,’ DeSantis said. ‘You basically need to go to higher ground.’
The governor also mobilized 1,100 Florida national guardsmen, as well as 2,400 high water vehicles and 12 aircraft for search-and-rescue missions.
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