Tropical Storm Idalia is gaining strength and is expected to become a major hurricane before making landfall on the Florida Gulf Coast later this week.
As of 5 a.m. EDT Monday, Idalia was located about 90 miles south of the western tip of Cuba and was moving north at 8 miles per hour.
The storm currently has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
The National Hurricane Center warned that as Idalia moves across warmer waters in the Gulf, it will rapidly intensify over the next 24 to 48 hours.
“Storm surge and hurricane watches are in effect for portions of the west coast of Florida and the coast of the Florida Panhandle,” the NHC said. “And residents in these areas should monitor updates to the forecast and follow any advice given by local officials.”
The NHC said flash and urban flooding are expected across portions of the west coast of Florida, the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia Tuesday into Wednesday, spreading into portions of the eastern Carolinas on Wednesday into Thursday.
The agency is also warning residents of the Florida Gulf Coast to prepare for life-threatening storm surges as some areas could experience up to 9 feet of surge.
Ahead of the storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 33 counties.
“I encourage Floridians to have a plan in place and ensure that their hurricane supply kit is stocked,” he said in a statement.
This is a developing story.
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