Idalia strengthened to a hurricane Tuesday morning as it barrels toward Florida’s Gulf coast with the potential to bring a life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds in the state over the next two days, the National Hurricane Center forecasted.
The Hurricane Center said the storm could bring sustained winds of up to 120 mph as it moves toward the Sunshine State, which would make it a Category 3 hurricane. The forecasters said the center of Idalia is expected to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday before reaching the Gulf coast of Florida on Wednesday.
Forecasters warned that Idalia is expected to become an “extremely dangerous major hurricane before making landfall” on Wednesday.
“You should be wrapping up your preparation for #TropicalStormIdalia tonight and Tues morning at the latest,” the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay said Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican governor of Florida, declared a state-of-emergency in 46 counties ahead of the storm and mobilized 1,100 National Guardsmen for rescue and recovery. DeSantis also said that the Department of Transportation would waive tolls on highways in the Tampa area and the Big Bend starting at 4 a.m. Tuesday to ease the burden for people who are in the path of the storm. DeSantis said that the Department of Transportation will waive tolls for highways in the Tampa and Big Bend area starting at 4 am on Tuesday in order to ease the burden of people living in the storm’s path. Residents of eight counties are required to evacuate, including those in coastal areas and those with mobile homes or boats. The county warned that the storm surge may prevent help from reaching those in need. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.