Idalia live updates: Storm strengthens into hurricane as it heads for Florida


(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Idalia is forecast to make landfall Wednesday morning in Florida’s Big Bend area, north of Tampa.

The storm is expected to strengthen further as it nears the Sunshine State, possibly becoming a major Category 3 hurricane by Tuesday night.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Aug 29, 5:32 AM EDT
Idalia strengthens into hurricane with 75 mph winds

Idalia strengthened from a tropical storm into a hurricane early Tuesday as maximum sustained winds reached 75 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Idalia is “expected to rapidly intensify into an extremely dangerous major hurricane” before making landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said in its latest advisory. Winds are forecast to reach 120 mph by Tuesday night.

As of 5 a.m. ET on Tuesday, the eye of the storm was located about 85 miles north of the western tip of Cuba and about 370 miles southwest of Tampa, Florida. The storm was moving north at 14 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

A hurricane warning, which means hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area, remains in effect for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio as well as parts of Florida, starting from the middle of Longboat Key northward to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay. Other weather alerts were still in effect for more areas of Cuba and Florida, as well as Georgia and South Carolina.

Aug 28, 6:38 PM EDT
FAA ‘closely monitoring’ Idalia, airlines issue travel notices

Airlines and The Federal Aviation Administration said it’s monitoring Tropical Storm Idalia as it heads to the U.S.

The FAA posted on social media that it’s “closely monitoring” Idalia’s path, but it isn’t responsible for closing airports and canceling flights.

American Airlines issued a travel alert that allows its customers whose plans are impacted by Idalia to rebook their flights without incurring a change fee.

Southwest Airlines said it anticipates some changes to its schedule and an impact on its operation as the storm approaches. The airline has issued a travel advisory for its customers.

United Airlines has issued travel waivers for customers traveling to and from impacted airports. The company said it’s working to ensure its team is prepared to deal with the expected severe weather.

Aug 28, 6:15 PM EDT
Evacuation orders issued for multiple Florida counties

Multiple counties in Florida are under mandatory and voluntary evacuations as Tropical Storm Idalia barrels toward the state.

People living in zones in Pinellas, Pasco, Citrus, Hillsborough, Levy, Manatee, Sarasota and Taylor counties must evacuate the area, according to multiple county officials.

County officials are also urging people living in mobile homes, low-lying areas and along the coast to leave the area as Idalia approaches.

Officials in Hernando, Jefferson, Manatee and Pasco counties have also issued voluntary evacuation orders for particular zones.

-ABC News’ Michael Pappano, Jianna Cousin and Robinson Perez

Aug 28, 3:24 PM EDT
FEMA encourages everyone in Idalia’s path to ‘get prepared today’

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is encouraging everyone in Idalia’s path to “get prepared today.”

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell spoke to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and “emphasized the agency’s actions and readiness to support the state’s needs.” FEMA is also “closely coordinating” with Georgia and South Carolina to provide support as needed.

President Joe Biden also spoke with DeSantis earlier Monday and approved an emergency declaration.

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Aug 28, 11:53 AM EDT
Tampa International Airport to close

Tampa International Airport will close at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday as Idalia nears.

A hurricane warning has been issued from the Tampa Bay area up to the Apalachicola area.

Aug 28, 11:49 AM EDT
Idalia could become hurricane on Monday, major hurricane by Tuesday night

Idalia is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane on Monday and may become a major hurricane by Tuesday night.

Landfall is currently forecast for 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday in Florida’s Big Bend region.

Storm surge is expected to be a major threat and could reach as high as 11 feet in the Big Bend area.

Up to 1 foot of rain could drench the Florida Panhandle and tornadoes are possible in Tampa and Orlando.

Idalia will move north Wednesday afternoon and evening, bringing heavy rain and potential flash flooding to Georgia and the Carolinas. Idalia will head out to sea on Thursday.

ABC News’ Max Golembo

Aug 28, 11:36 AM EDT
Idalia could be strongest hurricane for Big Bend since 1950

Idalia is currently forecast to make landfall along Florida’s Big Bend region between Apalachicola and Tampa as a Category 3 hurricane. If this happens, it will mark the strongest landfall for the Big Bend region since 1950, when Category 3 Hurricane Easy made landfall in Cedar Key.

Idalia’s potential landfall in Florida.

No hurricanes have ever made landfall in the Big Bend region stronger than Category 3.

It has been more than half a century since a hurricane of category 2 strength or stronger…

If Idalia makes landfall as a Category 2, it will be the first in the region since Gladys in 1968.

ABC News’ Kenton Gewecke

Aug 28, 11:04 AM EDT
Pasco County, Hillsborough County schools to close

As Idalia approaches, the Pasco County School District, north of Tampa, said its schools will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Schools in Hillsborough County, which encompasses Tampa, will also be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.


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