Hurricane Idalia Heading to Florida, Potentially Hitting as Category 3 Storm

Idalia intensified to a hurricane on Tuesday as it tracked toward Florida’s Gulf coast, where residents were preparing for the arrival of a major storm.

The National Hurricane Center said Idalia was expected to reach Florida’s western coast on Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of up to 120 mph. The storm is also expected to bring heavy rain and storm surge to the state.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 46 counties, and the state has mobilized 1,100 National Guard members to help with preparations.

Many schools and businesses along the Gulf Coast were closing on Tuesday, and residents were urged to evacuate if they live in low-lying areas.

“This is a major hurricane,” DeSantis said during a news conference on Monday. “We need to take this seriously.”

Idalia is the first hurricane to hit Florida this year, and it comes as the state is still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Ian, which caused widespread damage.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that the 2023 hurricane season is expected to be busier than average.

Here are some tips for staying safe during a hurricane:

  • Evacuate if you live in a low-lying area or if you are told to do so by local officials.
  • Bring supplies with you, such as food, water, and first-aid kits.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and flooded areas.
  • Listen to local news and weather reports for updates on the storm.

For more information on how to stay safe during a hurricane, visit the National Hurricane Center website.