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Hurricane Idalia Expected to Hit Florida as a Category 3 Storm

Hurricane Idalia Expected to Hit Florida as a Category 3 Storm

Hurricane Idalia continued to form in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, and experts predict it will grow into a Category 3 hurricane before hitting Florida’s Gulf on Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, the center of the hurricane had sustained winds of 85 mph and higher gusts. It was moving north at 14 mph.

According to the National Hurricane Center, its hurricane-force winds extend 15 miles, and its tropical storm-force winds spread out some 160 miles.

“Rapid intensification is likely through landfall, and Idalia is forecast to become an extremely dangerous major hurricane before landfall on Wednesday,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Eric Blake.

Currently, the storm’s projected path is to make landfall in Florida’s Big Bend between Gainesville and Tallahassee, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Hurricane experts say it could strike inland with peak winds of 125 mph and gusts up to 155 mph. The storm surge could jump to 15 feet.

“This is going to be a major hurricane,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis from the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee late Monday. “It’s likely to continue strengthening all the way until impact, and it could have catastrophic storm surge in your area.

“If this storm hits at high tide, storm surge could and would reach 8 to 12 feet in some areas, and so that would be [a] life-threatening storm surge,” DeSantis said. “I know all those areas are under evacuation notices in the low-lying and coastal areas. You run from the water, and you hide from the wind. If you’re there in that storm surge, you’re putting your life in jeopardy when it gets to be that high.”

Rainfall could exceed 4 to 8 inches across some areas but could be as high as 12 inches near the coast.

“From mid-afternoon into tonight, the frequency and strength of outer bands from Hurricane Idalia will increase,” according to the NWS forecast. “The timing of peak impacts will be during this period.”

President Joe Biden has already issued an emergency declaration for the state and ordered federal assistance to respond.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Joe Raedle/Staff, Floridians preparing for Hurricane Idalia

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.