Tampa, Florida – The strength of Tropical Storm Idalia is on the rise, and meteorologists predict that it will escalate into a major hurricane before it reaches Florida’s shores.
At 5 a.m. on Monday, the wind speeds of Tropical Storm Idalia measured 65 miles per hour. Its coordinates were recorded at 20.1 degrees longitude and 85.2 degrees latitude, with a northward movement at a pace of seven miles per hour.
FOX 13 Meteorologist Dave Osterberg has noted that the storm is currently situated within one of the warmest and deepest areas in the Caribbean, known as a region conducive to storm intensification. Despite some existing wind shear, which is currently inhibiting rapid intensification, Osterberg anticipates a swift intensification process once the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico, culminating in landfall.
Present indications suggest that the point of landfall is likely to be in the Big Bend area, near Cedar Key. This landfall is expected to occur with Tropical Storm Idalia transformed into a major hurricane, classified as Category 3 or higher. Osterberg’s projections anticipate the Bay Area experiencing rain bands from the storm starting on Tuesday night, with the storm’s center moving westward around 2 or 3 a.m. on Wednesday.
The looming threat encompasses not only powerful winds but also potential power outages, storm surge, and coastal flooding, particularly during high tide periods. Unfortunately, the concurrent full moon during the midweek will exacerbate these conditions.
Preemptive measures have been taken by communities across the Bay Area, as sandbags are being provided to residents as a protective measure.
According to Osterberg, a storm surge ranging from 4 to 7 feet is predicted for Tampa Bay late on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Additionally, the early hours of Wednesday will coincide with one of the year’s highest tides.
As of Sunday evening, a hurricane watch has been instituted for the Gulf Coast of Florida, extending from Englewood to Indian Pass, encompassing Tampa Bay.
Osterberg emphasizes the critical importance of monitoring the storm’s forecast for individuals residing in regions that have historically experienced flooding from westward-moving storms.
A storm surge watch has also been issued for the Gulf Coast area spanning from Chokoloskee to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay.
Hernando County has enacted voluntary evacuations for communities west of US 19. Residents inhabiting low-lying areas or mobile homes have been urged to prepare for the impending conditions. To address these concerns, the county plans to open shelters in its schools, resulting in the cancellation of classes on Monday.
State of Emergency In anticipation of the incoming storm, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 33 Florida counties, including the Tampa Bay Area, as a precautionary measure.
The counties covered by the state of emergency are as follows:
School Closures Citrus County
On Monday, August 28, Citrus County schools will operate on a half-day schedule. All educational institutions will remain closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Additionally, all after-school programs and extracurricular activities have been suspended starting Monday afternoon until further notice.
All Hernando County schools will be closed from Monday through Wednesday.
Pasco-Hernando State College
All campuses of Pasco-Hernando State College will be closed, and classes canceled on Tuesday, August 29, and Wednesday, August 30. Normal operations are projected to resume on Thursday, August 31, unless otherwise communicated. Campuses will continue to function, and classes will proceed as scheduled on Monday, August 27.