Tampa Weather Today: Storm Idalia now expected to be a MAJOR HURRICANE

Tropical Storm Idalia is predicted to become a hurricane on Monday as it swiftly intensifies in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Idalia had top sustained winds of 65 mph as of early Monday morning as it threatened the western edge of Cuba. The core of Idalia is expected to pass just west of the tip of Cuba and through the Yucatan Channel, according to the National Hurricane core.

Moreover, Idalia is predicted to make a direct course for the Florida Gulf Coast, building strength as it advances.

A tropical storm warning is also in effect from Englewood to Chokoloskee, Florida, and the Florida Keys. While Idalia is not predicted to make direct landfall in these locations, the storm’s outer bands may bring tropical storm-like conditions to the area in the coming days.

“The risk continues to increase for life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle beginning as early as late Tuesday,” the National Hurricane Center said.

“Storm surge and  hurricane watches are in effect for portions of the west coast of  Florida and the coast of the Florida Panhandle, and residents in  these areas should monitor updates to the forecast and follow any advice given by local officials.”

Officials spent Sunday encouraging residents to begin making emergency preparations. 

“Anybody on this Gulf Coast certainly from Tampa all the way up to places like Bay County, you should absolutely be vigilant right now,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

“You should be following the track of the storm and making your preparations. Listen to the folks who are with emergency management, and local officials. They are the ones that are going to be issuing guidance on evacuating and any road closures.”

The National Hurricane Center warned that in addition to gusts topping 115 mph at landfall, some sections of the Florida shoreline could suffer a storm surge of 11 feet.

While no watches have been issued, officials have advised residents of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina to keep an eye on Idalia’s progress.

Storm Ian was the last big storm to make landfall in Florida, hitting Cayo Costa on September 28, 2022. Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm, hit the Florida Gulf Coast in 2018.

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