Tropical storm Idalia hit Florida at a devastating speed of over 125 mph, causing destruction in its path. The major hurricane swept into Georgia and South Carolina too.
This article will cover everything there is to know about Hurricane Idalia today.
About Hurricane Idalia, Florida
Idalia Hurricane – Path
Hurricane Idalia was a Category 4 hurricane that drew a path across several parts of the United States, particularly Florida. It happened during the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. According to Belond Thomas of Perry, “all hell broke loose” when Idalia made landfall. Storm surge warnings and hurricane warnings were issued back on August 28, 2023, for portions of Florida’s Gulf coast; two days before it made landfall.
It made landfall on Wednesday morning, August 30, 2023. According to news sources, people could expect heavy flooding rain to continue on Wednesday night. Later on August 31, Idalia moved off the northeastern South Carolina coast to emerge into the Atlantic Ocean.
Idalia transformed into a post-tropical cyclone while moving to North Carolina. Then, on September 2, the storm hit Bermuda after a tropical storm watch was issued a few days prior. As the storm moved closer, the watch became a tropical storm warning.
Finally, Idalia absorbed Tropical Storm Gert and went off the coast of Atlantic Canada for a few days.
How the Idalia Tropical Storm Affected Florida and Other Nearby Areas
Florida was one of the areas that was affected the most. Governor Ron DeSantis placed 33 counties under a state of emergency on August 26. He added 13 more counties a couple of days later.
This section will go over the most important facts surrounding the hurricane and the tropical storm force winds that came with it.
Idalia made landfall at approximately 7:45 AM on August, 30. It was a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of about 125 mph. The hurricane then crossed into Georgia with wind speeds of 90 mph and weakened to a tropical storm by nightfall.
Unfortunately, the storm caused extensive damage where it passed. The high winds that came from the hurricane blew off roofs, snapped tall trees, and shredded signs as the eye moved inland. Even though no deaths related to the hurricane were confirmed in Florida, at least one person was confirmed dead in Georgia.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, at least two people died in separate weather-related crashes before Idalia’s landfall.
The hurricane was forecast to move along South Carolina’s coast and off North Carolina’s coast by Thursday. According to the National Weather Service, Idalia also spawned a tornado that touched down in the South Carolina city of Goose Creek. The winds that came from that tornado flipped over a car. At least two people sustained minor injuries.
North Myrtle Beach, Edisto Island, and Garden City reported ocean water spilling onto beachfront streets and flowing over dunes on Wednesday night. When the tornado hit Charleston, the storm surge topped the seawall located downtown.
It sent ankle-deep water into nearby neighborhoods and streets. Preliminary data mentioned that the high tides that happened on Wednesday evening reached over 9.2 feet, which was over 3 feet above regular tide levels. They were also the fifth-highest reading in Charleston Harbor since 1899.
Fortunately for Florida residents, Idalia’s hurricane blew into the state’s “nature coast,” which is known for being rural and far from crowded tourist areas or metropolises. Many were worried that Idalia would wreak havoc as Hurricane Ian did last year.
Still, the hurricane caused enough damage to worry residents. About half a million people in Florida and Georgia lost power. The heavy rains caused by Idalia partially flooded Interstate 285 (Tampa). Furthermore, a few power lines were toppled onto Interstate 75’s northbound side. People in Perry experienced torn-off siding, blown-out windows, and other consequences.
Businesses, homes, and boat docks in Steinhatchee were unfortunately swallowed up by water. These were about 20 miles south of the area where Idalia made landfall. About 5,500 National Guardsman and rescue crews started a search-and-recovery task by looking for anyone in distress, clearing toppled trees, and inspecting bridges.
According to Kevin Guthrie, the director of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management, the rescue teams could take longer to fulfill their duties due to the Big Bend area’s remoteness. On the other hand, Idalia was considered an unprecedented event by the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.
There was a power outage before the eye of the storm arrived in Tallahassee. Besides a giant oak tree splitting in two and covering the governor’s mansion’s yard with debris, the city itself didn’t experience any direct attacks.
Valdosta, Georgia, was affected by Idalia’s winds. The person who died in this area was hit by a fallen tree as he was clearing another tree out of the road. According to Ashley Paulk, Lowndes County Sheriff, at least two other people were injured when that tree fell.
Jonathon Wick, a resident, mentioned that he didn’t take the hurricane seriously until he woke up Wednesday morning to howling winds. He had to rescue his nephews from a trampoline located in his backyard. There, the water level rose to Wick’s knees. As he was getting into the driver’s seat, a tree toppled right in front of the car. Fortunately, it didn’t fall directly on it.
Due to the hurricane’s effect, over 30,000 utility workers in Florida gathered to start making repairs. On Wednesday afternoon, more than 900 flights got canceled in Georgia and Florida. Airports in those areas planned to resume operations later that day or on Thursday.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Idalia was 15 miles north-northwest of Charleston by 11 PM on Wednesday. Its wind speed was approximately 21 mph. Later, Bermuda residents received a warning of a “tropical storm” hitting the area later.
Florida, North/South Carolina, and Georgia received the full support of President Joe Biden’s administration on that same Wednesday. He made a call to the governors of each state to show support and approve a major disaster declaration for a few counties.