Hurricane Idalia hits Florida with catastrophic flooding and nearly 270,000 people were left without power; officials warn areas will not be habitable for “months”

Hurricane Idalia made landfall early Wednesday in Florida as a deadly Category 3 hurricane, promising to unleash “life-threatening” storm surges and damaging winds in the strongest storm to hit the area in more than 125 years.

Idalia had briefly been categorized as a Category 4 storm before winds slowed to 125 mph as it made landfall at 7:45 a.m. near Keaton Beach in Taylor County.

“This change in wind speed does not lessen the threat of catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds,” the National Hurricane Center had warned, and it was soon confirmed that two Florida men had died in storm-related incidents.

It was the strongest hurricane to hit the Big Bend area since an unnamed storm in 1896, according to the Fox Forecast Center, and several cities suffered widespread flooding with record high water levels.

Hurricane Idalia made landfall Wednesday morning in Florida as a dangerous Category 3 hurricane, promising to unleash “life-threatening” storm surges. Getty Images

As of 11 a.m., Idalia had been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, still packing “damaging” 90 mph winds, as the eye moved toward southern Georgia.

“Dangerous storm surge is also expected along the southeast coast of the United States within the storm surge warning area tonight and Thursday,” the National Hurricane Center warned.

A man was seen riding his paddleboard in the middle of a flooded Bayshore Blvd in downtown Tampa, Florida.A man rides a paddle board in the middle of flooded Bayshore Boulevard in downtown Tampa, Florida.AP
The storm surge threat extends along about 200 miles of Florida's west coast.The threat of storm surge extends for about 200 miles of the west coast of Florida.Getty Images
Damaging winds from Hurricane Idalia already left more than 130,000 Floridians without power as of Wednesday morning.Damaging winds caused by Hurricane Idalia already left more than 130,000 Floridians without power as of Wednesday morning.AP
Members of the Tampa Fire and Rescue Department remove a pole from the street after Hurricane Idalia's strong winds blew large awnings off an apartment building.Members of the Tampa Fire Department remove a pole from the street after strong winds from Hurricane Idalia blew large awnings off an apartment building.AP
Interstate 275 over Tampa Bay, Florida, is flooded with water due to Hurricane Idalia.
Interstate 275 over Tampa Bay, Florida, is flooded due to Hurricane Idalia. PA

By mid-morning, submerged trucks and Floridians kayaking through flooded streets could be seen across the state. Winds reached 85 mph in some cities, sending debris into the air as trees leaned almost completely parallel to the ground.

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Several cities set record water levels as the storm settled. Between high tide and full moon, Idalia’s aggressive waves pushed the water up to a record 8.9 feet at Cedar Key.

Two Florida men died in separate weather-related incidents early Wednesday morning.

Two hours before Idalia made landfall, a 59-year-old Gainesville man swerved into a ditch on SR-20 and crashed into a nearby tree line.

The second incident involved a 40-year-old man who was driving his pickup truck “too fast for conditions” and crashed into a tree.

The storm surge threat extends to about 200 miles of Florida’s west coast, including the Big Bend area of ​​the state, a sparsely populated area where the peninsula merges with the Panhandle, where 12 to 16 feet of storm surge was expected. cyclonic.

The rise at Clearwater Beach, which separates Tampa from the Gulf of Mexico, reached 5.2 feet, or 4.1 feet above the highest tides.

The imminent threat of storm surge, as well as wind damage, has National Weather Service officials in Tallahassee warning that some locations “could be uninhabitable for several weeks or months.”

Damaging winds had already left nearly 270,000 Floridians without power Wednesday morning as Idalia approached the state, PowerOutage.us shows.

The streets of Tampa, Florida, are flooded as Hurricane Idalia passes through the area.The streets of Tampa, Florida, are flooded as Hurricane Idalia passes through the area.ZUMAPRESS.com

A person kayaks through the streets flooded by Hurricane Idalia.A person kayaks through the streets flooded by Hurricane Idalia.Getty Images

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A truck was seen passing through a flooded street during the storm.A truck was seen passing through a flooded street during the storm.Getty Images

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Vehicles parked on a flooded street caused by Hurricane Idalia off the coast on August 30, 2023 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Vehicles parked in a flooded street caused by Hurricane Idalia just off the coast on August 30, 2023 in St. Petersburg, Florida.Getty Images
Offshore flooding from Hurricane Idalia surrounds a building on August 30, 2023 in St. Petersburg, Florida.Offshore flooding from Hurricane Idalia surrounds a building on August 30, 2023 in St. Petersburg, Florida.Getty Images

The hardest hit areas include Taylor and Dixie counties, including Horseshoe Beach, where terrifying beach cam video He captured waves coming ashore just before the power outage.

The ferocious storm, which had 14 million Floridians under hurricane and tropical storm warnings, dumped heavy rains on western Cuba before battering Florida’s Gulf Coast.

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Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 46 of the state’s 67 counties as thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to the area before Idalia hit.

A map shows ongoing showers and thunderstorms in the area as Hurricane Idalia moves to a Category 4 hurricane.  A map shows ongoing showers and thunderstorms in the area, as Hurricane Idalia moves inland. Weather in Fox

A significant amount of water is reaching shore at Madeira Beach. Officers will begin closing portions of Gulf Boulevard between 129th Avenue and 150th Avenue. #Idalia pic.twitter.com/a1axPnCgrh

— Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (@SheriffPinellas) August 30, 2023

“If you are told to evacuate, you should do it now,” he said during a news conference Tuesday as evacuation orders were issued in 22 counties.

Tuesday through Thursday, Florida’s Gulf Coast and the southeastern parts of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina could see torrential rains of 4 to 8 inches.

All face various warnings and advisories for hurricanes, tropical storms and storm surge.

Potentially “destructive and life-threatening” winds are another concern as the core of Idalia moves toward the coast through the Big Bend area, according to the National Hurricane Center.

People walk through a flooded street in Batabano, Mayabeque province, Cuba, on August 29, 2023, during Tropical Storm Idalia. People walk through a flooded street in Batabano, Mayabeque province, Cuba, on August 29, 2023, during Tropical Storm Idalia. AFP via Getty Images
A man rides a tricycle through a flooded street in Havana, on August 29, 2023, during the passage of tropical storm Idalia. A man rides a tricycle through a flooded street in Havana on August 29, 2023, during the passage of Tropical Storm Idalia. AFP via Getty Images
National Hurricane Center officials warned: "This change in wind speed does not lessen the threat of catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds." National Hurricane Center officials warned: “This change in wind speed does not lessen the threat of catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds.” fake images

More than 40 school districts in the affected region have canceled classes, DeSantis said.

Tolls were waived on highways outside the danger zone on Tuesday, while more than 30,000 utility workers gathered amid the likely overload of power outages.

Tampa International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport said they would close Tuesday and Sunrail commuter rail service in Orlando was suspended.

Gainesville Regional Airport also announced Wednesday that it would be closed until 5 p.m., saying: “There will be no flights operating until tonight… The airport is not available as a shelter. Stay safe!”

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Jacksonville International Airport remains open but warned that cancellations are imminent throughout the day.

Tolls on highways outside the danger zone were reportedly removed Tuesday.
Tolls on highways outside the danger zone were reportedly removed on Tuesday. CRISTÓBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 46 of Florida's 67 counties as Hurricane Idalia moved toward Florida's Gulf Coast. Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 46 of Florida’s 67 counties as Hurricane Idalia moved toward Florida’s Gulf Coast. fake images

Orlando International Airport, the closest to Walt Disney World Resorts, said Wednesday that while it is “open and operational,” flight disruptions and delays are expected throughout the day.

Major Florida theme parks, including Walt Disney World resorts, closed some attractions as Idalia pushed into the state’s Big Bend region.

“We are closely monitoring the projected weather path as we continue to prioritize the safety of our Guests and Cast Members,” the resort announced.

Several people may board up the doors and windows of their businesses in preparation for Hurricane Idalia.People have boarded up the doors and windows of their businesses in preparation for Hurricane Idalia.Getty Images
A man carries a woman on his back as he walks through the water in a flooded area of ​​Batabano, Mayabeque province, Cuba, on August 28, 2023. A man carries a woman on his back as he walks through water in a flooded area of ​​Batabano, Mayabeque province, Cuba, on August 28, 2023. AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Monday that he had approved an emergency declaration for Florida. He is expected to speak about Hurricane Idalia from the White House at 1:45 p.m. and provide an update on the current response to the storm.

Biden has reportedly been in contact with DeSantis.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was in Florida early Wednesday, providing resources for those displaced or without power.

In addition to Idalia’s historic impact, major Florida cities such as Tampa, Jacksonville and Sarasota could face tornadoes in the coming days.

Both Southwest Florida and Cuba are still recovering from Hurricane Ian, which was responsible for more than 100 deaths last year and left some Florida residents without power for more than a month.

With postal cables

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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