Aug 29, 2023 - News

Tampa Bay braces for Hurricane Idalia's arrival

Illustration of a house with a hurricane symbol shadow looming over it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Idalia has strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane ahead of its expected landfall Wednesday.

State of play: Tampa Bay officials urged some citizens to evacuate Monday and all others to be fully prepared by Tuesday.

Threat level: Idalia will bring a "life-threatening" storm surge into Florida's Big Bend area southward to Tampa Bay, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

  • Shifts in the forecast track and intensity could yield large changes in storm impacts, particularly any eastward jogs toward more populated areas along Florida's west coast, from Tampa to Sarasota.

The latest: The storm is expected to make landfall between Tampa and Tallahassee Wednesday morning, but high winds and flooding are likely to begin in these areas as soon as this afternoon or evening.

  • At 5am, the hurricane was located about 85 miles north of the western tip of Cuba and 370 miles south-southwest of Tampa, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. It was moving north at 14 mph.

What they're saying: At a press conference in Levy County on Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis warned citizens to have several days worth of provisions and be prepared to lose power.

  • "Please, please prepare accordingly," DeSantis said.

What we're seeing: Yacob sat in heavy traffic in Tampa Monday afternoon after Hillsborough County issued evacuations.

  • A Walmart in North Tampa hardly had any carts inside the store and virtually no parking spots outside. Lines for self-checkout snaked inside the store.

Yes, but: In St. Petersburg, all was calm. Selene was the only person on her street to put up hurricane shutters, and her parents' neighborhood in evacuation zone A was still lively well past the 7pm order.

  • Her parents' neighbors put a few sandbags out that barely covered their door, an offering for the hurricane fairy, perhaps.

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