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Hurricane Idalia continues to strengthen in the Gulf

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

8AM Aug 30th Update: Extremely Dangerous Cat 3 Hurricane Idalia has made landfall in the Big Bend area of Florida with winds of 125MPH; catastrophic Storm Surge and damaging winds have been occurring this morning. The system will move through the GA/SC/NC coast today into tomorrow.


AUG 29 5:00 PM UPDATE

The National Hurricane Center has found that Hurricane Idalia has strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. Idalia is now producing maximum sustained winds of 100 MPH. Moving to the north at 16 MPH, Idalia is expected to continue to strengthen and make landfall in Florida Wednesday morning as a major hurricane. Following landfall, a turn to the ENE is expected and Idalia will move along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.


A Storm Surge Watch has been issued from Beaufort Inlet to Drum Inlet, North Carolina, as well as the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.


A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued from South Santee River northward to Surf City, North Carolina. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued north of Surf City to the North Carolina/Virginia border, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

 

Hurricane Idalia Update: Here we go folks; here’s my latest thinking on Hurricane Idalia; there is still some uncertainty, but it is becoming clearer on impacts to North Carolina! What’s up with Idalia? Right now, as of 11AM EST the system was located 275 miles SSW of Tampa, Florida, with winds of 85MPH with a pressure of 976Mb. It is expected to strengthen to a Major Hurricane and make landfall between Tampa and the Big Bend area of Florida currently forecasted with winds of 125MPH a Cat 3 Hurricane, after that the system is expected to move inland and then just off the coast along NC/SC coast.


We will see impacts here in North Carolina; the greatest impacts will be for Eastern/Coastal NC, A mid-grade Tropical Storm appears to be possible, and things will continue to change over the next 24-36 hours. However, based on the latest data, here’s my latest thinking.

Tropical Storm Watch posted from Sunset Beach to Surf City, Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender Counties. More counties could be added.


The worst of the weather will be moving through Wednesday night through Thursday night with improving conditions Friday; the weekend looks pretty nice actually.




Wind: Tropical Storm Conditions are possible along the coast Wednesday night into Thursday wind gusts 40-55MPH will be possible along the beaches of North Carolina. Winds will die down quickly on the current forecast track as you move inland 25-40MPH. Winds to this magnitude don’t cause significant problems a few scattered power outages and down trees and impacts to loose outdoor furniture will be impacted mainly along the coast. The wind forecast is fluid and subject to change as new data comes available and tracks shift.



RAIN: The heaviest rain will be across Eastern/Coastal sections of the state 3-6” possible with some locally higher amounts Flash Flooding will be possible. Rain amounts will quickly backoff as you move inland 1-3” the main amounts right now. The greatest threat for some flooding will be mainly over Eastern/Coastal NC


STORM SURGE: Minor-Moderate Coastal Flooding will be possible along the beaches and sounds/tide areas during High tides Wednesday night/Thursday we will also have King Tides. Up to 2-4ft of Surge will be possible, mainly from Surf City south to Sunset Beach. I’ll have more in depth coverage on this later today with some maps coming, but if you are in an area prone to coastal flooding be aware.


Tornado Threat: A low tornado risk could develop along the coast, highly dependent on the forecast track of the system. I’ll have more on that as we get closer to the event, but be aware of isolated tornadoes along the coast.


The Bottom Line: Tropical Storm Idalia is expected to bring impacts to our region in the upcoming days. While these impacts are not projected to be major, we can anticipate some changes in weather conditions from Wednesday night through Thursday. Coastal areas should be prepared for slightly turbulent conditions, although uncertainties still surround the forecast. Rest assured, I am closely monitoring these developments and will provide timely updates as needed. I’ll be providing more updates over the next 12-24 hours. I hope this update helps you, and also, the new graphics are easy to understand.


Let's talk Storm Surge/Coastal Flooding; I am being inundated with questions on this. Storm Surge is very tricky and also very dangerous, so we always err on the side of caution. As of now, the data suggest a 1-3ft Storm Surge for most of the Southern and Central Coast; there is not very good data for the Outer Banks regarding sound side flooding. A 1-3FT sound side flooding may be possible. Unfortunately, we have a full moon (King Tides), so tides will be running high. I think some minor to maybe moderate coastal flooding will be possible during high tides on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Right now, data shows the surge will be lower than Hurricane Ian, but still a 1-3ft surge will cause some problems.

Storm Surge could cause vulnerable causeways to and from local beaches may experience some flooding. Low-lying roads along the ICW, canals, beaches, and adjacent tidal areas might flood. Moderate Beach erosion will be possible.

This is an early look at Storm Surge and is subject to change still aware as new data become available.


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