(WGHP) — Tropical Storm Idalia is ramping up toward hurricane strength on its approach to Cuba and Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center, and the Carolinas could see the impacts of the storm later this week.
As of 8 a.m. Monday, Idalia is about 90 miles south of Cuba’s western tip and moving north at 8 mph. It’s expected to become a hurricane when it nears western Cuba later today. Forecasters say Idalia is likely to continue north through Monday night before turning to the north-northeast and picking up speed on Tuesday. It’s expected to hit the southeastern Gulf of Mexico early Tuesday and Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday.
The storm currently has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. The storm would become a category 1 hurricane when those winds hit 74 mph. If those winds reach 96 mph, it could become a category 2 hurricane.
Forecasters warn that the storm may become a major hurricane, meaning a category 3 or higher with maximum sustained winds reaching at least 111 mph, before it reaches the Florida Gulf Coast.
Florida could face dangerous storm surge levels, especially if peak surge happens during high tide, according to the National Hurricane Center. Below are the NHC’s current estimates:
- Aucilla River, FL to Chassahowitzka, FL: 7-11 ft
- Chassahowitzka, FL to Anclote River, FL: 6-9 ft
- Ochlockonee River, FL to Aucilla River, FL: 4-7 ft
- Anclote River, FL to Middle of Longboat Key, FL: 4-7 ft
- Tampa Bay: 4-7 ft
- Middle of Longboat Key, FL to Englewood, FL: 3-5 ft
- Englewood, FL to Chokoloskee, FL: 2-4 ft
- Charlotte Harbor: 2-4 ft
- Indian Pass, FL to Ochlockonee River, FL: 2-4 ft
- Chokoloskee, FL to East Cape Sable, FL: 1-3 ft
- Florida Keys: 1-2 ft
The west coast of Florida, the Florida panhandle and southern Georgia could face flash and urban flooding, “some of which may be locally significant,” into Wednesday, according to NHC.
That flooding could spread into portions of the eastern Carolinas Wednesday into Thursday.
Tropical-storm-force winds could reach the heart of South Carolina by 8 a.m. Wednesday and North Carolina’s Outer Banks by 8 p.m. Wednesday.
According to FOX8 Meteorologist Emily Byrd, a stationary front hovering over eastern North Carolina “will be key in suppressing Idalia to our south and east, so while we are expecting showers on Wednesday and Thursday, the severe weather threat is low for now.”
Watches and Warnings
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
- Cuban province of Pinar del Rio
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- Yucatan Peninsula from Tulum to Rio Lagartos, including Cozumel
- Isle of Youth Cuba
- Dry Tortugas Florida
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:
- Chokoloskee to Indian Pass Florida, including Tampa Bay
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:
- Englewood to Indian Pass Florida, including Tampa Bay
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
- South of Englewood to Chokoloskee, Florida
- Lower Florida Keys west of the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge