Hurricane Idalia struck the west coast of Florida on Wednesday with devastating force as a formidable Category 3 hurricane.
This event led to the emergence of perilous storm surges and intense rainfall across a region that had never previously experienced such a severe battering.
The National Hurricane Center had tweeted an update stating that damaging winds were spreading into southern Georgia
To the south of Valdosta, Georgia, Interstate 75 was shut down due to power lines collapsing onto the roadway.
The fire and rescue department in Cedar Key issued a warning that numerous trees were knocked down, roads were obstructed by debris, and they strongly advised against anyone going towards the area. The storm surge, as measured by a tide gauge, reached 6.8 feet (equivalent to 2 metres), causing significant flooding in the majority of the downtown area.
The department also said, “We have propane tanks blowing up all over the island.”
Over 230,000 individuals experienced power outages due to power lines being brought down by strong winds and streets getting submerged under rushing water.
Along the shoreline, a number of houses were almost completely underwater, and buildings collapsed. As the centre of the storm progressed inland, powerful winds tore apart signs and propelled pieces of sheet metal through the air.
Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, said at a press briefing Wednesday morning, “Don’t put your life at risk by doing anything dumb at this point.
“This thing’s powerful. If you’re inside, just hunker down until it gets past you.”
Idalia reached land in the sparsely inhabited area of Big Bend, the point where the Florida Panhandle transitions into the peninsula. The hurricane hit Keaton Beach around 7:45 a.m. as a powerful Category 3 storm, with winds of about 125 mph (205 kph).
Over an hour later, it went to a Category 2 hurricane. A few forecasts suggested the possibility of Idalia retracing its path towards land, while the official projection from the National Hurricane Center indicated a more likely trajectory of moving further into the Atlantic during the upcoming weekend.
Tallahassee Mayor, John Dailey, advised people to stay indoors as it was not safe to venture outside anymore. The residents at dangerous coastal regions in Florida had already been instructed to evacuate due to the approaching Idalia.
Inquired about the hurricane on Tuesday, President Joe Biden mentioned that he had conversed with DeSantis and had given him all the necessary assistance.