Tropical Storm Idalia is now Hurricane Idalia. The storm was projected to intensify Monday but remained a Tropical Storm as it impacted Cuba. Idalia intensified as it made its way back out to sea en route to Florida.
The storm’s current sustained wind speed is 120 mph, which qualifies it as a category 3 hurricane. Still, experts suggest it could strengthen to a category 4 by the time it reaches Florida coastline. The upgrade to category 3 makes Hurricane Idalia a major hurricane.
A category 3 hurricane is any cyclonic (spinning) Storm with sustained wind speed between 111-129 mph. Category 4 storms have a sustained speed of 130-156 mph, and category 5 is any sustained wind speeds above 156 mph. Major hurricane status is achieved at category 3 or higher.
The storm is expected to make landfall as a hurricane (meaning it isn’t likely to weaken over the Gulf of Mexico today). It is also projected to bring potentially life-threatening storm surges. Residents of Florida’s Gulf Coast have been urged to evacuate. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has urged residents and visitors to listen to all emergency management personnel.
Idalia is expected to impact Florida’s Gulf Coast line on Wednesday morning, but hurricane force winds are expected to arrive by late Tuesday. Governor DeSantis has the National Guard standing by to help restore power and assist in recovery and rescue efforts.
The storm is, thankfully, moving quicker than Hurricane Ian did, which dumped rain on the state for days, causing severe flooding. Hurricane Idalia will make its way across Central Florida Wednesday afternoon and impact Florida’s East Coast Wednesday evening. By Thursday the storm will have moved on from Florida and will impact North Carolina.
As of now, all Orlando area theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, plan to remain open during Hurricane Idalia. They will be watching the storm closely, though, and that could change at a moment’s notice. Orlando International Airport (MCO) currently remains open as well, though Tampa International Airport (TPA) is closed today (Tuesday, August 28, 2023) and will remain closed until the storm has passed.
Stay tuned right here to Disney Dining, and make sure to follow our Facebook page. We will keep a close eye on the storm and will make sure to keep you updated with accurate information as soon as it becomes available.