Idalia has rapidly intensified into a major Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph and the latest forecast from the NHC is for peak sustained winds of up to 132 mph before landfall, with peak gusts estimated to exceed 160 mph.
Update: The latest NHC advisory, published since our article, states “Idalia is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Idalia could continue to strengthen before it reaches the Big Bend coast of Florida in a few hours.”
Hurricane Idalia has continued its forecasted track, intensifying over warm Gulf waters and is expected to make landfall on the big bend coast of Florida at around 8am local time.
With peak sustained winds of up to 132 mph before landfall, Idalia could reach the coast as a Category 4 storm, with the NHC warning of catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds in the Florida big bend region.
After landfall, the NHC says that hurricane Idalia is likely to still be a hurricane as it moves across southern Georgia, and possibly when it hits the coast of Georgia or southern South Carolina late today.
Currently, data from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft shows that hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.
Once again, the peak storm surge forecasts have also been increased by the NHC, with 12ft to 16ft now possible in Wakulla/Jefferson County line to Yankeetown, and up to 12ft in Ochlockonee River to Wakulla/Jefferson County line.
“The storm is expected to produce a swath of 4 to 8 inches of rainfall with isolated maxima up to 12 inches from the Florida Big Bend through central Georgia and South Carolina, and through eastern North Carolina into Thursday,” says the NHC.
As Idalia heads for the coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous hurricane, analysis by CoreLogic states that the storm threatens more than 800,000 homes along the Florida Gulf.
Together, these single-family and multifamily homes along the Florida Gulf Coast have a reconstruction cost value (RCV) of approximately $238.4 billion and are at potential risk of storm surge damage from Idalia.
Jon Schneyer, Director of Catastrophe Response, CoreLogic, said: “Due to the sparsely populated forecasted impact area, there will likely be a lower insured loss ceiling from Idalia compared to last year’s Hurricane Ian.
“Even so, systems that make landfall along the Gulf Coast are likely to generate a more substantial storm surge than equivalent storms that hit the Atlantic Coast. As such, Hurricane Idalia is expected to bring hurricane-force winds, catastrophic storm surge of up to 15 feet and widespread inland flooding across Florida and the southeastern U.S.”
See below for the latest location with wind speed and sea surface temperature forecast in Tomer Burg’s forecast map for Idalia: