Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend area as a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds, bringing a storm surge of up to 16 feet. The storm caused widespread flooding and power outages, and there were no immediate reports of deaths.
Idalia weakened to a Category 1 hurricane as it moved into Georgia and South Carolina, but it remained dangerous with heavy rain and flooding. The storm is expected to blow out over the Atlantic later Thursday.
In Florida, emergency crews were working to assess the damage and rescue people who were trapped by floodwaters. Many people defied evacuation orders and stayed behind, and some homes and businesses were destroyed.
The governor of Florida said that Idalia was the strongest storm to make landfall in that part of the state in over 100 years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed more than 1,000 emergency personnel to the disaster zone.
Scientists say that Idalia’s winds were energized by a “marine heat wave” in the Gulf of Mexico. Record-breaking temperatures off Florida are expected to amplify Atlantic storms this season, with scientists blaming human-caused climate change for the overall warming trend.