- Hurricane Idalia is a Category 4 storm with winds gusting over 130 mph, expected to make landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region.
- Cities directly in the storm’s path include Cedar Key, Chiefland, Newberry, Cross City, Apalachicola, Perry, and Gainesville, where the University of Florida has canceled classes.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has urged immediate evacuation, warning that conditions will deteriorate rapidly. Uber is offering free rides to storm service centers.
Unprecedented” Category 4 Hurricane Idalia Barrels Towards Florida, Prompting Urgent Evacuations
Florida is bracing for the impact of Hurricane Idalia, a catastrophic Category 4 storm with winds gusting over 130 mph, according to an early Wednesday morning update from the National Hurricane Center. The storm is being described as “unprecedented” by the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, as it intensifies over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters before making landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region.
The storm is expected to directly impact Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, and Levy counties, bringing with it catastrophic storm surges, damaging winds, and historic freshwater flooding. Cities in the storm’s path include Cedar Key, Chiefland, Newberry, Cross City, Apalachicola, Perry, and Gainesville, home to the University of Florida, which has canceled classes.
The storm is also projected to affect areas as far south as Crystal River and Tampa before continuing its northeastern trajectory toward Jacksonville and Georgia. No major hurricanes have made landfall in the Big Bend region since records began in 1851.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has issued an urgent warning for residents to evacuate immediately. “Now is the time,” he stressed, adding that conditions will deteriorate rapidly.
Coinciding with the storm is a Blue Moon, a celestial event that occurs once every two to three years, expected to bring higher tides than usual. The National Hurricane Center has warned of the storm’s life-threatening potential, urging residents to heed local evacuation orders.
Governor DeSantis also announced that Uber will provide free transportation to storm service centers for residents.
The last major storm to hit Florida was Hurricane Ian in 2022, which was the costliest hurricane in Florida’s history and the third-costliest in U.S. history, causing over $112 billion in damage and contributing to 150 deaths.