Miami, Aug 29 (EFE).- Hurricane Idalia continues to strengthen as it advances over the Gulf of Mexico towards the west coast of Florida with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour and is “likely to become a major hurricane soon,” the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Tuesday.
A person walks next to a restaurant covered with plywood as the town prepares for Hurricane Idalia in Cedar Key, Florida, US, 29 August 2023. EFE-EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH
In its 8 pm advisory, the NHC said that Idalia would most likely become a major hurricane – rated category 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale -, on Tuesday night before reaching the western region known as Big Bend on the north coast of Florida on Wednesday morning.
A sign inside a restaurant informs for its closure as the town prepares for Hurricane Idalia in Cedar Key, Florida, US, 29 August 2023. EFE-EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH
A Category 2 hurricane is upgraded to Category 3 when its maximum sustained winds reach 111 mph.
A person rides a bike near a ‘mandatory evacuation’ sign, as the town prepares for Hurricane Idalia, in Cedar Key, Florida, US, 29 August 2023. EFE-EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH
After making landfall, “the center of Idalia is forecast to turn toward the northeast and east-northeast, moving near or along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina late Wednesday and Thursday,” the US agency said.
NHC said Idalia is likely to remain a hurricane “while moving across southern Georgia, and possibly when it reaches the coast of Georgia or southern South Carolina on Wednesday.”
NHC meteorologists indicated that some areas along the west coast of Florida, including the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and the eastern Carolinas could record between 4 to 8 inches (102 to 203 mm) of rainfall between Tuesday and Thursday, with isolated higher totals of up to 12 inches.
The NHC said that Idalia could cause “dangerous” storm surges, a phenomenon that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned about at a press conference on Tuesday.
“In some of these areas along the Big Bend, you’re talking about really, really significant storm surge potential,” Florida governor Ron DeSantis told a press conference, warning of between 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.6 meters) of water.
“You’re not going to win the battle,” he said as he urged residents to leave their homes and head for “higher ground”.
More than 1.6 million people in Florida are under orders to evacuate their homes.
Idalia, the third hurricane of the season in the Atlantic, currently has maximum sustained winds of 103 mph and is located 155 miles west-southwest of the city of Tampa along the west coast of Florida and 245 miles south of Tallahassee, the capital located in the center of the state.
It is moving north with a forward speed of 16 mph. EFE