After making landfall in Florida, Tropical Storm Idalia intensified in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to make landfall in Florida as a hurricane as soon as Wednesday, bringing flooding to Cuba, Mexico and the southeastern United States.

Idalia was drifting east from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in head winds of 40 mph (64 kph), National Hurricane Center New York 11:15 a.m. Update said. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged residents to be prepared and declared a state of emergency in 33 counties, most of which are on the state’s Gulf Coast.

At a news conference Sunday afternoon, DeSantis said the state mobilized 1,100 National Guard troops, who will have 2,400 high-water vehicles and 12 aircraft available for rescue and recovery. The governor said most of the emergency resources would be deployed in Marion County and parts of northern Florida, but warned that models of the hurricane’s track could be unpredictable and said residents needed to remain vigilant.

Adalia’s winds are expected to reach at least 90 mph before making landfall early Wednesday, making it a Saffir-Simpson A Category 1 storm on the Category 5 hurricane scale.

“There is a significant risk of rapid intensification as the system moves through the record warm eastern and northeastern Gulf of Mexico,” he wrote.

Warm water is a key factor in fueling hurricanes. Rapidly intensifying storms can surprise emergency managers and residents alike because their destructive power can explode within a short period of time.

A year ago, Hurricane Ian suddenly intensified as a Category 4 storm before hitting western Florida, killing at least 150 people and causing more than $112 billion in damage, the Hurricane Center said.

activity stage

The Atlantic storm season is well ahead of historical pace and has entered its most active phase. According to the Hurricane Center, Idalia will be the 10th storm of the year, including an unnamed storm in January, which would normally be reached on Sept. 22.

As of Aug. 27, only six years have produced 10 or more storms, Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, said in a social media post. Five of those years were the most active on record, with 2020 producing 30 storms and 2005 producing 28 storms.

Idalia is expected to remain in the eastern Gulf, away from offshore oil and gas production. However, it could affect agriculture across the South and bring widespread power outages and hamper land and air travel.

The storm is expected to bring heavy rain to the Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba over the next few days before moving north. After making landfall in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina could experience downpours later this week.

Meanwhile, in the east, Hurricane Franklin is gathering strength in southwestern Bermuda. It is expected to develop into a Category 4 hurricane, but is not expected to hit land as it moves north across the Atlantic.

    — With assistance from Emmanuel John Milton

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