Idalia is now a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 84 mph as residents in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina prepare for high winds, storm surges and flooding.
Hurricane Idalia is projected to gain more speed and power as it enters the almost 90-degree ocean water off the coast of the Florida panhandle, reaching Category 2 status Tuesday evening and likely becoming a Category 3 when it makes landfall.
Since yesterday, the hurricane shifted slightly west from the forecaster’s projection, drifting further north from Tampa, targeting more of the Big Bend of Florida. Despite this northern drift, Columbus remains just outside of any hurricane or tropical storm winds.
Lindsay Marlow, meteorologist at the National Weather Service, expects gusts of 25-30 mph on Wednesday in the Columbus area. “The primary concern is going to be periods for heavy rainfall after 12 p.m. tomorrow.”
Gov. Brian Kemp issued a State of Emergency that goes into effect today and will last until Sept. 8. The declaration emphasizes the risk to Southern Georgians and opens up the possibility for federal assistance and personnel like the National Guard, if needed.
A flood watch is issued in Americus, 60 miles east of Columbus until Wednesday at 8 p.m. Surrounding counties south of Americus are under a tropical storm warning.
Forty years ago, tropical storms developed over cooler sea surface temperatures. Climate change has driven temps up.
“In 1983, the ocean temperatures were 1-2 degrees Celsius cooler than they are now,” Daniel Gilford, climate scientist with Climate Central, said.
The National Weather Service also recognizes this is an unprecedented event that is not comparable to other hurricanes in the Big Bend because it’s never happened.
“Looking back through recorded history, no major hurricanes have ever moved through the Apalachee Bay of Florida,” the statement on their website said. “This is your LAST DAY to prepare.”
Local Columbus officials are partnering with the Red Cross and ready to host evacuees if they decide to come to Columbus or the Albany area.
“We’re on standby ready to do what we need to do, we have a plan in place and we’re ready to work with the Red Cross if we do have any evacuations,” Chance Corbett, Columbus director of Homeland Security, said.
Do you have any family or friends who are seeking shelter in Georgia from the incoming Idalia? We want to know. Write or call email@example.com 505-715-8987
Here’s a planning and packing list from Georgia Department of Transportation to consider as you prepare for the storm:
Bottled water (3-day supply per person)
First Aid Kit and any prescriptions
Battery-powered radio, extra batteries
Flares, booster cables, tire repair kit, fire extinguisher
Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
List of emergency phone numbers
Know your evacuation and shelter routes.
Keep your emergency supplies stocked.
Remain alert for tornado watches and warnings.
Practice and discuss your family’s emergency plans.