Hurricane Idalia intensifies to a Category 3 storm: Live updates


27m ago / 3:49 AM EDT

1h ago / 2:47 AM EDT

What’s the difference between a Category 3 storm and a Category 4?

The National Hurricane Center considers any storm with sustained wind speeds of 111 mph or higher a “major storm.” But even without that qualifier, any hurricane can be deadly and destructive.

Hurricanes are categorized on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, based on maximum sustained wind speed, which leads to different levels of damage.

Here’s how they break down:

  • Category 1: Wind speeds of 74 to 95 mph producing some damage
  • Category 2: Wind speeds of 96 to 110 mph producing extensive damage
  • Category 3: Wind speeds of 111 to 129 mph producing devastating damage
  • Category 4: Wind speeds of 130 to 156 mph producing catastrophic damage
  • Category 5: Wind speeds of 157 mph or higher producing catastrophic damage

2h ago / 2:26 AM EDT

Idalia could cut across parts of Georgia, South Carolina as a hurricane

Idalia was expected to continue to gain strength early this morning and then weaken over land, but not enough that it will lose its hurricane status, forecasters said.

On its path toward the Atlantic, the storm was expected to cut across parts of Georgia and possibly South Carolina still at hurricane-strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Idalia is likely to still be a hurricane while moving across southern Georgia, and possibly when it reaches the coast of Georgia or southern South Carolina late today,” the center said in its latest public advisory this morning.

The weakest sustained windspeed for hurricane status is 74 mph; lower than that and Idalia would return to a tropical storm.

Forecasters say parts of Georgia and the Carolinas could see as much as 12 inches of rain from the storm, and the risk of tornadoes was likely to shift from Florida into those states during the day.

2h ago / 2:05 AM EDT

Idalia now a Category 3 hurricane

Hurricane Idalia has been upgraded to a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, is classified as a major hurricane, with catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds expected in the Big Bend region.

The hurricane was about 100 miles southwest of Cedar Key and 175 miles south of Tallahassee, and it was moving at about 15 mph.

Idalia is expected to make landfall this morning as a Category 4 hurricane, according to the hurricane center.

Landfall is expected south of Perry along the coast of Florida’s Big Bend region, according to NBC News’ Weather and Climate Unit.

The Big Bend region could encounter a dangerous storm surge of 12 to 16 feet in parts of the area, according to the hurricane center.

Damaging storm surge could stretch up to 200 miles south into the Tampa area, according to the unit.

2h ago / 1:55 AM EDT

Water coming over the sea wall in Treasure Island

2h ago / 1:48 AM EDT

Flooding reported in St. Pete Beach

3h ago / 1:37 AM EDT

Idalia nearing Florida’s Big Bend

Idalia was nearing Florida’s Big Bend coast early this morning, with the storm estimated to be 160 miles south of Tallahassee at 1 a.m. ET.

The hurricane was moving north, almost parallel to the state’s west coast, at 16 mph, federal forecasters said.

The state capital is not right on the coast — about 25 miles could be shaved off that distance to measure Idalia’s path to the coastline.

The storm was also about 115 miles southwest of Cedar Key, in Levy County, where a mandatory evacuation order was issued yesterday.

The storm remained just below Category 3 strength, with sustained winds believed to be at 110 mph. Forecasters said it is likely to move up to Category 4 before it makes landfall sometime this morning.

In either category, Idalia jumps to “major hurricane” status and the destruction associated with categories 3 through 5.

3h ago / 1:36 AM EDT

Idalia expected to make landfall as Category 4

Idalia is expected to be a Category 4 hurricane by the time it makes landfall along Florida’s Big Bend region this morning, the National Hurricane Center said late last night.

A Category 4 storm brings with it the possibility of catastrophic damage, structural damage and uprooted trees and utility poles, the hurricane center says. It means some areas might not be habitable for weeks.

With sustained winds of 110 mph, the storm was 1 mph shy of Category 3 on its way to the more powerful Category 4 status, according to the National Hurricane Center.

People board up a window Tuesday in Tampa, Fla., as the city prepares for Hurricane Idalia. Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo / AFP via .

Sustained winds of 111 mph would put it at Category 3. Sustained winds of 130 or greater would make it a Category 4 storm. Either would mean a shift from hurricane to major hurricane, a status given at Category 3 and higher.

The hurricane was about 125 miles west of Tampa and gaining strength, the National Hurricane Center said. It was moving north at 18 mph and was expected to make landfall sometime in the morning.

3h ago / 1:35 AM EDT

Florida has people, fuel on standby to respond to post-storm needs

To prepare for Idalia, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the National Guard, and President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration.

DeSantis said the state had staged resources to be ready to respond throughout Florida, addressing power needs and threats to residents.

DeSantis said Florida was ready with 1.1 million gallons of fuel and nearly 30,000 workers who would help restore power. 

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