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Tropical Storm Idalia nears hurricane strength, forecast to become Category 3 storm before landfall in Florida

Tropical storm warning issued for Sebastian Inlet northward to Georgia
Tropical Storm Idalia, Aug. 28, 2023 at 11 p.m.
Posted at 5:41 AM, Aug 28, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Tropical Storm Idalia is forecast to become a hurricane over the eastern Gulf of Mexico by Monday night, a major Category 3 hurricane by Wednesday and impact Florida over the coming days.

In the 10 p.m. CDT update from the National Hurricane Center, a tropical storm warning was issued for Florida east coast and the southeastern Georgia coast from Sebastian Inlet northward to Altamaha Sound.

WPTV First Alert Weather chief meteorologist Steve Weagle said Idalia's outer bands will start to affect Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast on Tuesday afternoon.

Hurricane and storm surge warnings earlier were issued for parts of Florida's west coast, and life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds are becoming increasingly likely for portions of the state.

Idalia

Idalia is currently packing maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, no change from six hours earlier, and moving north at 8 mph. Idalia is about 10 miles southwest of the Western Tip of Cuba and about 230 miles southwest of Dry Tortugas.

A storm becomes a hurricane at 74 mph.

A hurricane warning is in effect from the middle of Longboat Key northward to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay.

Palm Beach County is not in any watches or warnings.

TRACKING THE TROPICS: Hurricane Center | Hurricane Guide

Rapid strengthening is predicted during the next day or so. Idalia is forecast to become a hurricane late Monday, and become a major hurricane by late Tuesday or Tuesday night. Landfall is projected for Wednesday afternoon along Florida's Big Bend region, which includes Tallahassee.

"It could become a major Category 3 hurricane by Wednesday, early in the morning," WPTV First Alert Weather meteorologist Jennifer Correa said. "So that is concerning, of course, for the Big Bend of Florida and anywhere down into the Tampa Bay area."

Correa said that while our areas will not get a direct hit, there will still be gusty, heavy rain bands swinging through Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. These will be Idalia's outer bands moving through as the center of Idalia will make landfall somewhere in the Big Bend or northern west coast of Florida.

Idalia

Landfall is expected on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday's gusty bands will bring a severe weather threat for our area, so isolated tornadoes will be possible, along with wind gusts of at least 45 mph.

"Today is kind of a normal day. But then as we go into tomorrow, we're gonna start to see those gusty squalls and the winds pick up speed," Correa said.

Idalia

Correa added that Wednesday will be the gustiest day for our viewing area.

"From the Treasure Coast down into the Palm Beaches, we'll see those wind gusts could go over 40 mph," Correa said. "So again, Tuesday, Wednesday looks like the worst of the weather. And then we'll still have some wet conditions Thursday, Friday."

In addition to wind gusts, our viewing area could get 1 to 3 inches of rain from Idalia.

MORE WEATHER: Radar | Alerts | 7-Day Forecast | Hourly Forecast

The tail end of moisture from the storm will keep our weather pattern active and wet through Friday.

There are currently no weather watches or warnings for Palm Beach County or the Treasure Coast because of Idalia.

"If the system shifts slightly to the east, we may get some tropical storm watches issued locally," WPTV First Alert Weather meteorologist Steve Villanueva said.

Hurricane Franklin at 11 p.m. Aug. 28, 2023..jpg
Hurricane Franklin at 11 p.m. Aug. 28, 2023.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Franklin was a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and moving north at 9 mph, in the 8 p.m. EDT update. Franklin was about 420 miles west-southwest of Bermuda.

Swells, life-threatening surf and rip currents are already affecting Bermuda and the coast of the

southeast United States.