Officials are warning area residents to take Tropical Storm Idalia seriously as the system strengthens into what may be a Category 2 hurricane before making landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast by Wednesday.
“This storm is gaining steam in the Caribbean and is expected to strengthen as it enters the Gulf,” Alachua County said in a Sunday evening update. “It is important that you and your family start taking preparedness actions now if you haven’t already done so.”
The county encouraged residents to take the following actions:
- Sign up for emergency alerts by texting ALACHUA to 888-777.
- Clear items around your home that can be picked up by strong winds.
- Secure property in areas that are prone to flooding.
- Clear tree limbs from around windows.
- Move vehicles out from underneath trees.
- Ensure everyone in your family is familiar with your disaster plan.
- Have a plan for prolonged power outages.
- Refill prescription medications.
- Have a plan for your pets.
- Check on neighbors and those that you know may have special needs.
- Use Alachua.weatherstem.com to view weather stations that are near your home.
- Go to hurricanes.gov and weather.gov/jax for the latest storm track and potential impacts.
Alachua County Emergency Management plans to send out more information—including on sandbags, shelters, closures and more—following the National Hurricane Center’s Monday morning update.
On Saturday Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for 33 Florida counties, including Alachua, Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Suwannee and Columbia.
“Floridians along our Gulf Coast should be vigilant, even if you’re currently outside the cone—and indeed you could see impacts if you are in a place that’s outside the cone,” DeSantis said at a Sunday press conference. “If you look at this Big Bend region, the models are probably more in agreement than when we had Ian last year, but these things can shift. There’s still some uncertainty out there. So, please, continue to heed your local officials, continue to watch the local news.”
DeSantis said power companies will begin pre-staging line workers on Monday and people who are near the impact area should expect to lose power. He also said the state is mobilizing 1,100 Florida National Guard personnel, in addition to 2,400 high wheel vehicles and 12 aircraft.
As of Sunday afternoon, Tropical Storm Idalia was building strength near Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. Forecasters expect it to strengthen significantly over the next 72 hours as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico.