CEDAR KEY, Fla. (AP) — Follow live updates about Hurricane Idalia, which has strengthened to a Category 4 storm as it steams toward Florida, threatening to unleash life-threatening storm surges and rainfall.
What to know
— Feeding on some of the hottest water on the planet, Hurricane Idalia is rapidly strengthening as it bears down on Florida.
— A rare blue supermoon could play a role in an unfolding disaster as Hurricane Idalia takes aim at Florida’s west coast.
— Florida’s Big Bend is one of the last truly natural places in the state. Now it’s in the bull’s-eye of a major hurricane.
PERRY, Fla. — Hurricane Idalia has made landfall on Florida’s west coast as a dangerous Category 3 storm on Wednesday and threatens to unleash life-threatening storm surges and rainfall.
Idalia came ashore in the lightly populated Big Bend region, where the Florida Panhandle curves into the peninsula. The result could be a big blow to a state still dealing with lingering damage from last year’s Hurricane Ian.
The National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Idalia “an unprecedented event” since no major hurricanes on record have ever passed through the bay abutting the Big Bend.
Hurricanes are measured on a five category scale, with a Category 5 being the strongest. A Category 3 storm is the first on the scale considered a major hurricane.
Earlier: Hurricane Idalia closes in on Florida as Category 4 storm
Hurricane Idalia strengthened to a dangerous Category 4 storm Wednesday morning as it steamed toward Florida’s Big Bend region and threatened to unleash life-threatening storm surges and rainfall.
Florida residents living in vulnerable coastal areas were ordered to pack up and leave as Hurricane Idalia gained strength in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and authorities warned of a “catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds” when the storm moves ashore later Wednesday morning.
Idalia was projected to come ashore as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of at least 130 mph (200 kph) in the lightly populated Big Bend region, where the Florida Panhandle curves into the peninsula. The result could be a big blow to a state still dealing with lingering damage from last year’s Hurricane Ian. It had grown into a Category 2 system on Tuesday afternoon and became a Category 3 just hours earlier Wednesday.