Idalia gradually winding itself down as it races to the coast

One-sentence summary

Idalia is heading to the ocean again, and it will continue offshore with diminishing rain and wind in the Carolinas overnight and a potential date with Bermuda late Friday or Saturday as a tropical storm.

Idalia should move offshore overnight and begin to head east, ending the rain and wind in the Carolinas. (NOAA NHC)

Tropical Storm Idalia: 60 mph maximum winds, moving NE 21 mph

What’s changed since early evening?

Idalia is headed for the exits with no real forecast changes of note.

Charleston, SC recorded their 5th highest tide on record, maxing out at 9.23 feet tonight, about a half-foot higher than forecast.

Charleston preliminarily has established their 5th highest tide observation on record at 9.23 feet. (NOAA)

Myrtle Beach managed a 9.13 foot tide, which, if confirmed, is their sixth highest on record.

What’s next? Idalia and Bermuda

Idalia’s rain continues over northeast South Carolina and much of eastern North Carolina, where flash flooding remains a possibility into the overnight hours. (College of DuPage)

Idalia is on its way out to sea. Heavy rain will continue over eastern North Carolina and northeast South Carolina into the night. Localized flash flooding remains a concern. Otherwise, the wind and surge aspect of Idalia should begin to level off. Rough surf, beach erosion, and rip currents will continue along much of the East Coast due to both Idalia and Hurricane Franklin. If you’re kicking off Labor Day weekend early, please keep that in mind on the Eastern Seaboard.

Again, to emphasize, Idalia is heading out to sea. It is unlikely to pivot back west toward Florida again. And even if it did do that, Idalia is not the same Idalia that it was this morning. This is a much more disheveled and disorganized storm. Conditions in the Atlantic are going to be absolutely raging with wind shear over the next few days, so we’ll see if it can even survive that. Bottom line: You don’t need to worry about a second act of Idalia right now.

For Bermuda? Idalia is worth watching over the next few days to see how it manages to navigate the Atlantic wind shear. A tropical storm impact could occur there as early as late Friday and linger into the weekend. I’m more concerned about the length of time and proximity Idalia may spend near Bermuda than the intensity of the storm right now, so we’ll see how this unfolds. Interests in Bermuda need to monitor this over the next few days.

After early next week, I cannot tell you where Idalia will go, except to say probably out to sea eventually. We’ll stay on top of it.

Our next update will be our regularly scheduled morning outlook on Thursday, where we’ll catch you up on what’s happening elsewhere in the Atlantic.

Evening Update on Idalia as it hustles toward the coast to get offshore

One-sentence summary

Idalia is now a tropical storm, racing off to the northeast and should emerge offshore tonight, where it will head east for several days before possibly impacting Bermuda.

Tropical Storm Idalia: 70 mph, moving NE at 21 mph

Idalia is no longer a hurricane, now a tropical storm, but still causing plenty of headaches as it comes northeast across Georgia and just about into South Carolina.

Idalia will head out to sea over the next few days. (NOAA NHC)

What’s changed since late morning

Idalia is now a tropical storm.

All warnings for Florida’s Gulf Coast have been discontinued.

Areas highlighted in orange have the best chance at tropical storm-force winds, while yellow areas may see some gusts up to tropical-storm force. (NOAA)

Idalia’s wind

Wind gusts up near 70 mph were recently reported near Savannah, GA, so Idalia still has some punch left. Power outage numbers are now up to around 500,000 in Florida and Georgia per Idalia will weaken a bit further as it moves northeast before getting back out over the Atlantic, but it will still be capable of 50 to 70 mph wind gusts over a wide area of Georgia, South Carolina, and parts of North Carolina.

Charleston is expected to record its highest tide level since November 2018 this evening. (NOAA)

Idalia’s surge

Major coastal flooding is expected in parts of South Carolina, with Charleston forecast to see their highest tidal level since November 2018 this evening, peaking near 8.7 feet. If that is achieved, it would be the seventh highest level recorded in Charleston since records have been kept.

Farther up the coast, Myrtle Beach is expecting moderate coastal flooding, while Wilmington, NC is expecting minor coastal flooding. Additional moderate flooding may occur on the mainland side of Pamlico Sound in North Carolina.

Peak storm surge expected this evening in the Carolinas, with residual high tides in Florida and Georgia. (NOAA NHC)

Idalia’s rainfall

Heavy rains continue along the path of Idalia.

Tropical Storm Idalia is spreading heavy rain north and east through the Carolinas now. Conditions will improve in Georgia this evening. (College of DuPage)

Pockets of flash flooding should occur in spots across the Carolinas this evening, with 6 to 8 inches possible in North Carolina and another 2 to 6 inches in South Carolina. River flood warnings will be needed for some of the hardest hit basins. A moderate (level 3 of 4) risk of excessive rainfall remains in effect for the Carolinas.

A tornado watch is in effect for the coastal plain of South Carolina and southeast North Carolina through 10 PM ET this evening. (NOAA SPC)

Idalia’s tornadoes

Isolated tornadoes remain possible, particularly south and east of where Idalia ventures, hence a tornado watch is in effect tonight for coastal South Carolina and a portion of North Carolina.

Idalia’s future track: Loop looks less likely

The forecast track for Idalia is coming into better focus now, and we can stop talking about the possible loop de loop back to Florida. Models are unanimous in taking Idalia out to sea for now, slowly but steadily.

Idalia is going to head out to sea. It may tap the brakes southwest of Bermuda, but it will eventually get there. (Tropical Tidbits)

If there is a risk with Idalia, it would be to Bermuda or for the very, very, very outside chance that it were to get pushed back toward the Northeast U.S. at some point. The latter seems highly unlikely right now, and the former (risk to Bermuda) is a low risk right now. Modeling agrees that Idalia should remain below hurricane intensity for now while it meanders offshore. We’ll keep eyes on this over the coming days however.

Regardless, Idalia will help keep surf rough and probably enhance the risk of rip currents up and down the U.S. East Coast, in concert with what’s left from Franklin.

Our next update will be a brief one after the 11 PM ET advisory package.

Idalia cruising across Florida-Georgia line, bringing strong winds, lashing surge, and heavy rains through the Carolinas

One-sentence summary

Idalia make landfall near Keaton Beach, Florida, at 7:45 am ET this morning as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained 125-mph winds. The hurricane will continue to produce significant impacts on Florida and other southern states for about the next 24 to 36 hours before it exits into the Atlantic Ocean.

A satellite image of Idalia shortly before Noon ET on Wednesday. That’s Hurricane Franklin spinning in the Atlantic, away from land. (NOAA)

Storm surge

Let’s start with storm surge, which has been considerable in Florida’s Big Bend area. This part of the state has a relatively low population, but Idalia has still been flooding villages and knocking down trees in northern Florida. Peak storm surge levels were about 10 feet, or higher, in the Keaton Beach areas and further south down the coast, toward Yankeetown. As expected, Idalia came in far enough north of the Tampa region on Florida’s Gulf coast to spare that large metro area from its worst effects.

The other area of concern, in terms of surge, is along the coast of South Carolina, particularly near Charleston. Moderate to major flooding is expected in coastal South Carolina later this afternoon when Idalia’s storm surge combines with high tide.

Damaging winds

Idalia briefly reached Category 4 status this morning, but started weakening just before landfall early on Wednesday. This weakening was due to the storm undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle, a process by which an older eyewall weakens and a new one forms. After coming ashore, as storms typically do, this interaction with land has rapidly reduced Idalia’s maximum sustained winds. As of 11 am ET, the National Hurricane Center says they have fallen to 90 mph.

Areas in darker shades of red are most at risk for sustained winds of 60 mph or higher. (National Hurricane Center)

This is still strong enough to uproot trees and down power lines, however. This will be a significant problem in northern Florida, and southern Georgia and South Carolina. Idalia is expected to weaken to just below hurricane strength before moving into the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday morning.

Inland rainfall

Despite Idalia’s relatively rapid forward movement, it is still expected to produce a significant amount of rainfall along its track across the Southeastern United States, including North and South Carolina. Some areas may see as much as 6 to 10 inches of rainfall in total, and a major concern is rainfall rates.

Tropical storms can produce some of the most explosive rainfall rates, which quickly back up drainage systems. Already, this morning, there have been reports of 5 inch-per-hour rainfall rates in Southern Georgia, which will cause significant inland flooding.

NOAA rainfall accumulation forecast for Idalia. (Weather Bell)

A rare location for such a storm

Meteorologist Steve Bowen has plotted the 21 known hurricanes, since 1851, to strike the Florida peninsula. Many of these storms were clustered in Southern Florida, with only a small handful in the Big Bend region of Florida. The strongest of these, Hurricane Michael, made landfall in 2018 with 160 mph winds.

Florida’s major hurricane landfalls. (Steve Bowen)

Our next update will be today by around 5 pm Eastern.

Idalia approaches landfall in Florida’s Big Bend as a category 4 hurricane

Editor’s note: Idalia made landfall with estimated 125 mph winds, making it a category 3 major hurricane

One-sentence summary

Idalia is about to make landfall as a category 4 hurricane in Taylor County, FL, with catastrophic storm surge in the Big Bend and wind, tide, and rain impacts spreading north into Georgia and the Carolinas later.

Idalia will track into Georgia and South Carolina today before exiting offshore. (NOAA NHC)

Hurricane Idalia: 130 mph, moving north-northeast at 18 mph

Idalia looks prepared to make landfall on the eastern side of Apalachee Bay in Taylor County or on the Taylor/Dixie County line.

What’s changed since late last night?

Idalia is now a category 4 major hurricane with 130 mph maximum sustained winds. It is nearing landfall. Because of Idalia’s fast forward speed, hurricane warnings are now in effect on the East Coast from just north of St. Simons Island, GA to Edisto Beach, SC. Storm Surge Warnings are also posted from St. Catherine’s Sound in Georgia to the South Santee River in South Carolina. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect north from Surf City, NC to the North Carolina and Virginia border.

Forecast tides in South Carolina are a little higher today.

An extreme wind warning is in effect for Taylor and portions of Dixie County, FL as Idalia approaches landfall.

Idalia’s surge

The storm surge forecast remains on track in Florida, with a little expansion of surge this morning forecast for the South Carolina coast, now up to 3 to 5 feet in the Charleston area.

Catastrophic storm surge is expected this morning in the Big Bend of Florida. (NOAA NHC)

With Idalia coming ashore in Taylor County in all likelihood, surge may be a bit under the forecast west of the Taylor/Jefferson County line. This is accounted for in the map above, but it may even drop off a bit faster than shown. Still, as much as 12 to 16 feet of surge should be in the process of rolling ashore in the Big Bend. Charleston’s forecast is now up to 8.5 foot tidal levels in the harbor.

Charleston should see tides into major flood levels, peaking around 8.5 feet. (NOAA)

This is now forecast to be up to about November 2021 levels and close to cracking Charleston’s top 10 list.

There has not been much change in Savannah this morning, with a 10.3 foot crest expected.

Idalia’s catastrophic category 4 winds will be in a small area but drive right into Perry, FL, while strong winds are likely to extend out from there into a secondary eyewall that will likely graze Tallahassee. (RadarScope)

Idalia’s wind

The core of Idalia’s category 4 winds, the real catastrophic winds will push into Taylor County, FL and right toward Perry, FL over the next hour or two. Those will cross I-10 near or west of Live Oak in all likelihood. Strong winds are likely in a secondary eyewall forming to expand Idalia’s wind field this morning. That will push inland on the west side of Apalachee Bay and come very close to Tallahassee.

Idalia’s wind field is expanding but the intensity will gradually lessen as Idalia push inland and weakens. Still, this storm will be capable of big wind and many power outages as it comes north and east.

Because of Idalia’s forward speed, strong damaging winds will expand into southeast Georgia, likely just east of Valdosta. Hurricane-force winds are possible into coastal Georgia and south of Charleston, SC. (NOAA)

The strongest winds will hopefully avoid Valdosta, but much of southeast Georgia will see very strong winds as Idalia races northeast. Hurricane-force winds will also be possible in southeast South Carolina.

Idalia’s tornadoes

A Tornado Watch is posted for most of North Florida and southeast Georgia through mid-afternoon.

Isolated tornadoes are possible on the east side of Idalia’s track. (NOAA SPC)

Tropical systems do produce isolated tornadoes, so this will be a possibility anywhere in the watch area.

Idalia’s rain

Idalia is expected to produce a narrow but lengthy corridor of 6 to 10 inches of rain into southeast North Carolina.

Idalia will produce a swath of 6 to 10 inches of rain into southeast North Carolina, likely causing flash flooding in spots as it comes northeast (NOAA)

Flash flooding is likely in spots as it comes northward.

Our next update will be posted around Noon ET with the latest on Idalia as it comes northeast.