Tropical storm Idalia targets Gulf of Mexico on possible track to US


Tropical Storm Idalia on Sunday formed off the coast of Mexico on a potential track to come ashore as a hurricane in the southern US, the National Hurricane Centre said. At 5 pm Sunday, the storm was about 153 kilometers east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, moving northeast at 4.8 kph with highest sustained winds of 64 kph, forecasters said. Hurricanes have winds of 119 kph and above. Forecasters said they expected Idalia to become a hurricane on Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico and then curve northeast toward the west coast of Florida.
Idalia could approach Florida on Wednesday with winds of up to 160 kph, according to the latest forecasts from the Hurricane Centre. That would make it a Category 2 hurricane.
Along a vast stretch of Florida’s west coast, up to 3.4 metres of ocean water could surge on shore, raising fears of destructive flooding. At a Sunday afternoon briefing, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis noted that much uncertainty remains in the forecast. “This thing hasn’t even gotten to Cuba yet, and the water in the Gulf is very, very warm and so that will provide some fuel for this thing to pick up some more speed,” DeSantis said. Large parts of the western coast of Florida are at risk of seawater surging onto land and flooding communities when a tropical storm or hurricane approaches. That part of Florida is very vulnerable to storm surges, Jamie Rhome, deputy director of the National Hurricane Centre, said Sunday. “So it will not take a strong system or a direct hit to produce significant storm surge,” he said. “So if you’re anywhere along the Florida Peninsula, western Florida Peninsula, so let’s say from about Fort Myers northward to the Panhandle, you’ve really got to be paying attention.” In Cedar Key, a fishing village that juts out into the Gulf of Mexico, a storm surge is among the greatest concerns, said Capt. A J Brown, a fishing guide who operates A J Brown Charters.