Hurricane Idalia Now Major Cat. 3 Storm; Forecast To Strengthen Further Before Landfall In Florida

Hurricane Idalia has been upgraded to a major Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph. At 11 p.m. PT, Idalia sat about 100 miles south of the Florida coast. It is expected to make landfall somewhere in the Big Bend region of the state with a storm surge between 12 and 16 feet.

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According to the latest National Weather Service forecast, “significant strengthening seems likely up to landfall. The new official intensity forecast calls for Idalia to reach category 4 strength at landfall.” Cat. 4 storms have maximum sustained winds from 130-156 mph.

Per the NWS, “Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.”

NWS Tallahassee offered some local context for what the forecast called a potential catastrophic storm surge.

“Hurricane #Idalia will likely be an unprecedented event for many locations in the Florida Big Bend. Looking back through recorded history, NO major hurricanes have ever moved through the Apalachee Bay. When you try to compare this storm to others, DON’T. No one has seen this.”

The storm will remain potent moving inland. It is likely to still be a hurricane while moving across southern Georgia and, according to the NWS, possibly even when it reaches the coast of Georgia or southern South Carolina late Wednesday.

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