250,000 without power as Idalia makes first landfall as Category 3 storm

by | Aug 30, 2023

  • Hurricane Idalia’s Category 3 landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region at 7:45 A.M. has resulted in power outages for around 250,000 residents.
  • The storm’s impact is most severe in Leon and Suwanee counties, where over 50,000 and nearly 20,000 properties are without power, respectively.
  • Idalia, now a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds, has caused record-breaking storm surges along the Gulf Coast, affecting areas from Tampa Bay to the Big Bend region. Flooding is widespread, and power companies like FPL and Duke Energy are mobilizing resources for restoration efforts.

Approximately 250,000 Florida residents are facing power outages throughout the state’s Big Bend region following Hurricane Idalia’s initial landfall at 7:45 A.M. as a Category 3 storm.

The highest concentration of outages is being seen in Leon and Suwanee counties, with 50,230 and 19,995 properties without power, respectively. Nearby Dixie, Taylor, Lafayette, and Wakulla counties have also registered numerous disruptions to service.

“Idalia will continue to move through the state, so customers should expect widespread outages throughout the day,” said Florida Power and Light, the state’s largest provider. “FPL will continue restoring power safely and as quickly as possible, while simultaneously conducting critical damage assessments.”

As of 9:30 A.M., Idalia has weakened to a Category 2 storm with 110 mph sustained winds. The storm has been identified as the strongest to hit the Big Bend area in more than 100 years as storm surges may reportedly reach 16 feet, according to the National Hurricane Center. Flooding has been identified along the state’s western shorelines.

The storm surge triggered by Idalia is breaking long-standing water level records as far south as Florida’s Gulf Coast, affecting areas from Tampa Bay to the Big Bend region. In Cedar Key, the water level has surged to 6.8 feet above the highest recorded tides, surpassing the 2016 Hurricane Hermine record of 5.99 feet. The storm surge has pushed the water level to a total of 8.9 feet.

East Bay Tampa is also experiencing a significant water level increase, with levels reaching 4.51 feet above the highest tides. This surpasses the 2020 Tropical Storm Eta record of 3.79 feet. The corresponding storm surge has raised water levels to 5.7 feet.

In Clearwater Beach, the water level has risen to 4.1 feet above the highest tides, breaking the 1993 Storm of the Century record of 4.02 feet. The storm surge has resulted in a water level rise of 5.2 feet.

FPL announced Monday afternoon that it has mobilized its restoration workforce and is coordinating with county and state emergency operations centers. The provider informed customers to expect widespread power outages and potential storm surges in coastal regions. Meanwhile, Duke Energy is also taking proactive measures ahead of Idalia. With potential weather impacts looming, the company has readied approximately 4,500 resources, including power line technicians, vegetation workers, and damage assessors to address potential outages that may occur as the storm makes landfall.

Duke has also made available its midwest operations, along with utility partners across the state and Southeast, to assist with power restoration once weather conditions permit.


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