Tropical systems in the Atlantic starting with the letter ‘I’ have a real agenda and building reputation on their hands in recent years. Both Ida and Ian have been retired over the past couple of years, and Idalia certainly has the look of trying to make it three for three.

A look at satellite tonight reveals Tropical Storm Idalia over western Cuba. Also Category 4 Hurricane Franklin is spinning in the Atlantic…but it will be a fish storm almost certainly.

Forecasters already have Idalia projected to come ashore as a strong category 3 hurricane during the midweek period. However, conditions ahead of the storm may favor unanticipated rapid intensification beyond that.

The current projected path of Idalia has it coming ashore in the big bend region of the Florida Gulf Coast.
Current peak storm surge forecasts show an area of 8-12ft surge possible in that region as the storm comes ashore.

This is going to be a serious hurricane for sure, and the new normal does seem to be a regime that favors rapid intensification of storms more often — especially as ocean waters continue a run of much above normal temperatures.

Ocean temperatures remain much above normal across the Gulf of Mexico, and there is a pretty warm region ahead of Idalia’s projected path.

The Bottom Line

Idalia is a potentially (and likely) very dangerous storm. If you are reading this blog you don’t need to be told to pay attention to new forecasts from the National Hurricane center and local forecasters in the coming days — but you may need to be told to tell your neighbors to do the same. So do that.

  • The upper-air pattern is conducive for rapid and significant strengthening over the next 24-36 hours with Idalia.
  • The ocean heat content ahead of the storm is really quite high.
  • It is likely the storm will undergo periods of rapid intensification, especially overnight tonight and tomorrow night. These are sometimes quite unpredictable, and it would not be shocking if Idalia briefly reaches Category 4 strength before landfall with that in mind.
  • Regardless of what category Idalia reaches, the practical impacts of storm surge, flooding, and wind damage are going to be pretty significant.