Aug 28, 2023 - Science

Biden, DeSantis speak in rare phone call as Idalia threatens Florida

Tropical Storm Idalia (left) approaching Florida next to Hurricane Franklin (right) seen from a satellite on Aug. 28.

Tropical Storm Idalia (left) approaching Florida next to Hurricane Franklin (right) seen from a satellite on Aug. 28. Image: CIRA/RAMMB

President Biden spoke to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday and approved an emergency declaration in the state as Tropical Storm Idalia approaches.

Why it matters: Idalia is forecast to become a hurricane later on Monday before intensifying and hitting the state as a major Category 3 storm Wednesday morning.

  • The emergency declaration, which is backdated to Aug. 27 when DeSantis made the emergency request, allows the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in over 30 counties.
  • "President Biden said Florida will have his full support as they prepare for Idalia and its aftermath," the White House said, per The Hill.

Threat level: The National Hurricane Center warned on Monday morning that Idalia is expected to bring "life-threatening" storm surge to Florida's Big Bend region southward to Tampa Bay.

  • Hurricane forecasters also said that Idalia is likely to rapidly intensify in record-warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico beginning Tuesday morning up until landfall on Wednesday.
  • On Monday morning, Idalia was tracking slowly north from waters between Mexico and Cuba.

What they're saying: During the phone call, Biden also pledged his full support for the people of Jacksonville, Fla., where three Black people were killed in what the U.S. Justice Department is investigating as a hate crime, according to Reuters.

The big picture: The Atlantic Ocean saw a record amount of tropical storm activity last week, after four named storms formed in just 39 hours, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

  • In a revised forecast earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this year's hurricane season will likely be unusually active because of record-warm ocean temperatures.
  • It said it expects to see between 14 and 21 named storms in the Atlantic, of which six to 11 could develop into hurricanes.

Go deeper: Tropical Storm Idalia is a feared Gulf intensification scenario

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