TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Idalia strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane early Tuesday and is expected to rapidly intensify in the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center said Idalia is about 275 miles south-southwest of Tampa. The storm’s winds have increased to 85 mph.
Idalia is forecast to make landfall along the northwest Gulf Coast of Florida sometime on Wednesday as an “extremely dangerous” Category 3 major hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of the 11 a.m. update, Idalia was over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, moving north at 14 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Idalia’s track remains west of Tampa Bay.
Storm surge remains the biggest threat with Idalia, with some areas north of Tampa Bay expected to see 8 to 12 feet of storm surge, with 4 to 9 feet in the Tampa Bay area and 3 to 7 feet south of Tampa Bay.
The storm surge threat is increased thanks to higher-than-normal high tides due to Wednesday’s Super Moon.
A hurricane warning is in effect for most of the Florida Gulf Coast from Gulf County to the south end of Sarasota County, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The outer bands are expected to arrive in the Tampa Bay area in the late afternoon but will become more frequent and intense by midnight. The worst weather will be between Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.
Most of the tornados will happen Tuesday night, while the biggest storm surge for the Tampa Bay area will happen Wednesday morning.
Watch WFLA Now’s 24/7 coverage to stay up-to-date on Idalia. Get the latest on closings and weather conditions in your area on our Tracking the Tropics page.
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