WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — Hurricane Idalia, an exceptionally perilous and formidable storm, made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, carrying the strength of a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds reaching 125 mph.
Prior to landfall, Idalia had escalated to a Category 4 hurricane during the early hours of Wednesday, subsequently diminishing slightly to a Category 3.
As of the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Idalia has further weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, maintaining sustained winds of 90 mph. The hurricane’s center is currently traversing southern Georgia, while elevated water levels persist along Florida’s Gulf coast.
Meteorologist Jennifer Correa from WPTV First Alert Weather predicts that the Big Bend area will face storm surges of 12 to 16 feet, along with rainfall ranging from four to eight inches. Tropical storm-force winds will be felt in the region spanning from Gainesville to Tallahassee.
Images from Cedar Key depict inundated streets and fallen trees in the wake of Idalia’s onslaught.
Idalia is projected to weaken into a tropical storm by late Wednesday.
Correa explains, “The forecast path appears to have shifted somewhat northward, hugging the coastline of South Carolina, ultimately departing into the Atlantic Ocean by late Thursday. Afterward, it is expected to venture further into the Atlantic, slowing down and showing signs of deceleration.”
However, Correa also mentions that there exists a considerable degree of uncertainty regarding the storm possibly looping back towards Florida. In such a scenario, she notes, “Idalia’s tropical structure would be substantially altered.”
In Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, the areas are currently experiencing gusty winds on Wednesday, coupled with a few passing afternoon storms, although it is not expected to be a total downpour.
Correa emphasizes that our region will not receive significant rainfall but warns of the potential for isolated instances of severe storms.
“As the day progresses, we anticipate wind gusts exceeding 30 mph, which will be the primary feature of the afternoon,” reports WPTV First Alert Weather meteorologist Steve Villanueva. “But the winds are predicted to weaken as the evening and tomorrow approach.”
High temperatures for Wednesday afternoon are forecasted to reach the low 90s, with high humidity prevailing.
Following Idalia’s path, moisture will linger on Thursday as the storm advances into the Atlantic waters off the Carolinas. This will sustain a breezy weather pattern in our region, accompanied by scattered storms. Subsequently, drier weather is anticipated for the upcoming weekend.
In other parts of the tropics, Tropical Depression 11 in the central Atlantic Ocean is predicted to persist for only another day, according to the NHC. Meanwhile, two additional disturbances in the central and eastern Atlantic are reported to have a low to moderate potential for development.