Idalia landed on the west coast of Florida around 8 a.m. on Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane. The hurricane has now weakened to category II, with wind speeds up to 180 kilometres per hour.
According to CNN, Idalia is the most severe storm in more than 125 years to make landfall in the Big Bend region, south of the state capital, Tallahassee. More than 230,000 households were without power on Wednesday morning, CNN reports. Over 1,000 flights were cancelled or delayed due to the storm, especially at Tampa airport.
Governor Ron DeSantis called on Florida residents at a news conference to brace for the storm earlier in the day. “Don’t put your life in danger, and don’t do stupid things,” he said. At least one person had to be rescued by emergency services.
Idalia is the third hurricane to land in Florida in the past year. In September 2022, more than 100 people died when Hurricane Ian landed; in October 2022, Hurricane Nicole made landfall. Then, five more died.
The port of Port Canaveral suspended all shipping traffic on Wednesday, CNN reports. The port is on Florida’s east coast and is not on the hurricane’s expected path, but port authorities are still warning of strong winds.
Due to the storm, some 4,500 people were forced to seek shelter in Red Cross shelters. In addition, some 4,000 prisoners were also transferred to other facilities where they are better protected against the hurricane.