CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Idalia is expected to reach hurricane strength as it approaches western Cuba on Monday. Forecasters then expect the storm to reach major hurricane status as it approaches the Gulf coast of Florida.
A Storm Surge Watch has been issued for the Gulf coast of Florida from Chokoloskee to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Gulf coast of Florida from Englewood to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Gulf coast of Florida south of Englewood to Chokoloskee and for the Dry Tortugas.
Live 5 First Alert Meteorologist Joey Sovine said hurricane hunters who flew into the storm for the first time Sunday afternoon reported data that led to the tropical depression being upgraded to tropical storm strength.
Sovine said Monday morning that forecasts now show Idalia approaching major hurricane status at it nears the Florida Gulf coast Tuesday night. The storm is expected to impact Charleston on Wednesday and Thursday.
Portions of the west coast of Florida, the Florida panhandle and Georgia could see 4 to 8 inches of rainfall from Tuesday into Thursday with isolated totals of 10 inches. Heavy rainfall is likely to spread into portions of the Carolinas by Wednesday into Thursday.
The Live 5 Weather team declared First Alert Weather Days for Wednesday and Thursday.
At 8 a.m., the center of Tropical Storm Idalia was located near latitude 20.6 North, longitude 85.2 West. Idalia is moving toward the north near 8 mph. A northward motion is expected through tonight, followed by a faster north-northeast motion on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On the forecast track, the center of Idalia is forecast to pass near or over western Cuba tonight, over the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico by early Tuesday, and reach the Gulf coast of Florida on Wednesday.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 65 mph with higher gusts. Idalia is forecast to become a hurricane later today and a dangerous major hurricane over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico by early Wednesday.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 989 mb or 29.21 inches.
Portions of Florida face the possibility of storm surge ranging from 1 to 2 feet in the Florida Keys to as high as 7 to 11 feet from the Aucilla River to Chassahowitzka, The Tampa Bay area could see 4 to 7 feet of storm surge.
Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by late Tuesday or Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions possible by Tuesday.
A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.
A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
Franklin becomes first major hurricane of the season
Hurricane Franklin strengthened further to a Category 3 hurricane Monday morning making it the first major hurricane of the 2023 Atlantic season.
At 5 a.m., the center of Hurricane Franklin was located near latitude 27.2 North, longitude 70.8 West and was moving toward the north-northwest near 8 mph. A gradual turn toward the north and north-northeast with a slightly faster forward speed is expected during the next couple of days.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is forecast today, but gradual weakening is expected to begin by Tuesday afternoon. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles. The estimated minimum central pressure is 956 mb based on data from aircraft reconnaissance or 28.23 inches.
While Franklin will stay well away from the southeastern U.S. coastline, it will produce increased wave action this week and could increase the risk of rip currents this week.
Rip currents can put even experienced swimmers in danger. When you hear about an increased risk for them, here's what that means.
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