On Wednesday morning, Hurricane Idalia made landfall north of Cedar Key, Florida, arriving as a powerful Category 3 hurricane. Its impact was accompanied by a “catastrophic” storm surge that pummeled the island community.
This occurrence marks the most potent hurricane to strike the Big Bend area in over 125 years. The Florida Big Bend region, where the state’s peninsula converges with the panhandle, stands particularly susceptible to the impact of hurricanes.
The point of landfall was near Keaton Beach, situated approximately 75 miles southwest of Florida’s capital, Tallahassee. Boasting maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, the hurricane caused extensive damage, bringing forceful winds, heavy rainfall, and flooding to the vicinity.
The storm surge along Florida’s Big Bend region coastline escalated to alarming levels, presenting a significant threat to the affected communities.
The forecasts from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) had indicated a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet for Cedar Key. Preliminary reports suggest that the surge has reached or even surpassed these estimated heights. Consequently, the surge has overpowered coastal defenses, flooding streets and structures and leaving residents trapped within their residences.
Images and videos captured from the region show flooded streets and residences and debris floating in the water.
The storm surge from Hurricane Idalia left much of Cedar Key underwater. As of 8am, water was up to 10 feet in some places.— Ricky Matthews (@WAVY_RickyM) August 30, 2023
Video: WFLA pic.twitter.com/eOf6lcHMRo
Major storm surge in Cedar Key, FL from Hurricane Idalia pic.twitter.com/IP9Bk0ourv— Reed Timmer, PhD (@ReedTimmerAccu) August 30, 2023
Idalia is the strongest hurricane to strike Florida since Hurricane Michael in 2018. As the storm progresses inland, it is expected to weaken; however, it is likely to continue delivering heavy rainfall and strong winds to the area.