The powerful storm came ashore near Keaton Beach on Wednesday morning
Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning.
The powerful storm came ashore near Keaton Beach as a Category 3 storm after having intensified in the Gulf of Mexico this week. It was expected to be a Category 4 storm, but was downgraded less than an hour before hitting land.
That doesn't mean Idalia isn't dangerous. As the storm made its way to shore on Wednesday morning, it was moving at 18 mph as a hurricane, with wind speeds upwards of 125 mph and a storm surge upwards of 16 ft. It's the strongest storm that has made landfall in the Big Bend region in more than 125 years, according to CNN.
Upwards of 18 million people have been impacted by the hurricane storm warnings, with approximately 161,000 people are without power, according to poweroutage.us. The storm's expected path is along the north, through Tallahassee. Tornado warnings are also in effect.
Weather experts say it'll likely be a tropical storm by the time it hits Charleston, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is ready and waiting to react to the impacts, FEMA officials saying in a release they're "ready to move to the most impacted areas immediately after the storm passes" with "warehouses filled with commodities like food, water, blankets, and medical supplies that ready to rapidly move into the impacted area at the state’s request."
Prior to making landfall, the storm passed over western Cuba on Monday, then passed by the southeastern Gulf of Mexico the following day, according to the National Hurricane Center. More than 10,000 people in Cuba left their homes for safety as up to 4 inches of rain was recorded, reported the Associated Press.
The storm strengthened on Tuesday into a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds on Tuesday, according to CNN.
As of Tuesday, evacuation orders had been issued in 22 counties as of Tuesday, according to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office, A state of emergency was also declared in 49 counties.
Idalia was "predicted to rapidly intensify into a major hurricane," the governor's office said at the time, adding that "life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds are becoming increasingly likely for portions of Florida’s Gulf Coast."
"Everybody on the Gulf Coast from Tampa Bay to northwest Florida must be vigilant," DeSantis said at a Tuesday news briefing, per USA Today. "You're going to see some nasty weather."
CBS affiliate WFOR-TV previously reported that the worst of the bad weather is likely to affect South Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday, as heavy rain could lead to localized flooding. About 1 to 2 inches of rain could fall, accompanied by potential wind gusts measuring 25 to 45 miles per hour.
Conditions were also predicted to deteriorate in the Tampa Bay region on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported, with strong winds and 6 to inches of rain expected in some areas.
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A major hurricane is classified as Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. A Category 3 hurricane will bring forth devastating damage at sustained winds of 111–129 mph, while a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 157 mph or higher will wreak catastrophic damage.
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