Hurricane Idalia path and timeline: When and where meteorologists project the storm will hit Florida

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Tropical Storm Idalia was almost at hurricane strength early Tuesday and is forecast to rapidly strengthen over “the next day or so,” the National Hurricane Center says.

Idalia was over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. It could become a hurricane Tuesday morning and a major hurricane over the eastern Gulf early Wednesday, hurricane center forecasters said. Idalia’s eye is expected to reach Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as well.

Idalia’s path is expected to impact a wide central portion of the state, including cities such as Tampa and Orlando.

As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, Idalia was some 55 miles north of the western tip of Cuba, moving north at 8 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph — 4 mph shy of when storms are classified as hurricanes.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Monday that Idalia was expected to grow into at least a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall. 

Forecasters have put communities under a range of severe weather advisories, from hurricane and tropical storm warnings and watches to storm surge warnings and watches.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Franklin, to the east over the Atlantic, was churning on a track that’s expected to skirt along the East Coast.

It was a major Category 4 hurricane early Tuesday and was bringing “life-threatening surf and rip currents” along the southeastern U.S. coastline that were expected to “spread northward,” the hurricane center said. Franklin “is expected to pass well to the west of Bermuda on Wednesday,” the center added. It’s expected to weaken starting Tuesday afternoon.

Meteorologists rate hurricanes according to the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, categorizing storms that fall within Categories 3, 4 or 5 as “major” hurricanes capable of causing “significant loss of life and damage,” according to the National Hurricane Center. The categories are based on a hurricane’s maximum sustained wind speeds.

Tropical Storm Idalia, left, at the western tip of Cuba and Hurricane Franklin, right, over the western Atlantic, early on August 29, 2023.

National Hurricane Center / NOAA


Where is Hurricane Idalia going to hit?

Florida’s Gulf Coast appears to be in Idalia’s sights, putting putting communities at risk in central parts of the state and up through the Panhandle.

“Idalia is forecast to become a hurricane as it reaches the Gulf coast of Florida,” the National Hurricane Center tweeted Monday afternoon. “There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida coastline.”

Earlier, the National Weather Service warned, “The risk continues to increase for life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle beginning as early as late Tuesday.”

As the agency noted, storm surge watches and hurricane watches were in effect for large portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle.

The weather service said coastal areas as far south as Cape Sable, in the Everglades, and the Florida Keys could see storm surges of up to two or three feet above ground level as Idalia approaches. Storm surge threats increase for coastal areas further up the coast, with meteorologists estimating potential surges of up to 11 feet for much of northwestern Florida and into the Panhandle. 

Storm surge is a rise in water levels caused by hurricane-force winds that push water toward shore and over areas of land that are normally dry, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This phenomenon is considered the greatest threat to life during a hurricane.

Forecasters also warned that “areas of flash and urban flooding, some of which may be locally significant, are expected across portions of the west coast of Florida, the Florida Panhandle, and southern Georgia Tuesday into Wednesday, spreading into portions of the eastern Carolinas Wednesday into Thursday.”

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the boundaries of the warning area, while a hurricane watch means those conditions are possible, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters are urging people in areas under hurricane warnings to prepare for the onset of conditions within the next 12 to 24 hours. People living in areas placed under storm surge watches should prepare for the “possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline” over the next 48 hours, the hurricane center said.

When is Hurricane Idalia expected to make landfall?

Idalia is expected to make landfall along the Gulf Coast of Florida on Wednesday.

“We do expect Hurricane Idalia to be a major hurricane that will strike the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at Monday’s briefing, warning that residents living across Florida’s Gulf Coast should prepare for “major impacts” tied to the oncoming storm. 


Maps of Hurricane Idalia’s projected path

As of Monday, meteorologists have forecast a continuous northeastern path for Idalia as it grows from a tropical storm into a major hurricane, tracking over the Gulf of Mexico toward the west coast of Florida throughout Tuesday and into Wednesday.

After making landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Idalia is expected to continue northeastwards over Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas on Wednesday and Thursday, decreasing in strength as it travels.

Will Idalia and Franklin hit Florida at the same time?

Hurricane Franklin is not expected to hit Florida, but it may cause rough surf conditions and rip currents. Officials haven’t issued any forecasts suggesting that Franklin will make landfall anywhere along the East Coast.

As Idalia approaches, the National Weather Service has issued tropical storm watches and warnings for parts of eastern central Florida, including Orlando, where residents have been urged to prepare for “local tropical storm conditions by Tuesday night and into Wednesday. 

An incoming “long-period swell” in the Atlantic caused by Hurricane Franklin will make the coast susceptible to “high seas, rough surf, an increase in life-threatening rip currents, and beach erosion during high tides during Tuesday and Wednesday,” according to the hurricane center. 

There is a possibility of strong and potentially damaging wind gusts from Idalia that could “extend well eastward from the storm’s center” once it makes landfall in Florida, the weather service said. Meteorologists added that torrential downpours could also happen in eastern parts of the state, which may be subject to increasing tornado threats as well.

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