Hurricane Idalia has strengthened into a Category 4 storm, posing a significant threat to Florida's Big Bend region. Forecasters are warning of catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds as the hurricane moves closer to landfall.
Idalia has rapidly intensified, reaching Category 4 status with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. It continues to gain strength as it approaches the coast of Florida.
Forecasters predict that Idalia will make landfall in Florida's Big Bend region in the next few hours. The area where North Florida and the Floridian Panhandle meet is at high risk.
Idalia is currently located about 60 miles west of Cedar Key, Florida, and 90 miles south of Tallahassee. It is moving north-northeast at a speed of 18 mph, with a projected path toward the Big Bend coast.
After making landfall, Idalia is expected to turn northeast and east-northeast, potentially affecting the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. It is likely to remain a hurricane while crossing southern Georgia.
A storm surge warning is in effect for various areas along the coastlines, including Tampa Bay. The combination of dangerous storm surge and tides may lead to flooding in coastal regions. Water levels could reach as high as 16 feet in some areas.
Hurricane Idalia's intensification and impending landfall in Florida's Big Bend necessitate immediate precautions. Residents in the affected regions should closely monitor updates from local authorities and follow evacuation orders if necessary. Stay safe and prepared during this potentially dangerous hurricane event.