Tropical Storm Idalia forms near Mexico, heads to Florida

This image obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows ropical Storm Idalia (C) off the coast of Mexico on 27 August, 2023, at 21:20:20 UTC

Tropical Storm Idalia formed Sunday in the Caribbean, buffeting southeastern Mexico with wind and rain, as forecasters predicted it will strengthen to a hurricane before reaching Florida later in the week.

The storm, which is not forecast to make landfall in Mexico, will travel across the Gulf of Mexico before reaching northwest Florida, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Idalia will create "increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle beginning as early as Tuesday," the NHC warned.

"There is considerable spread in the model intensity guidance, ranging from minimal to major hurricane status before landfall on the northeast Gulf coast," the NHC added.

The NHC predicted Idalia will have made landfall in Florida by 7:00 am (1100 GMT) Wednesday, in an image showing the storm's likely path.

At 0300 GMT Monday, Idalia was swirling in the Caribbean, headed northeast with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles (95 kilometers) per hour, the NHC said.

Storm surge and hurricane watches have been issued for parts of Florida's coast and scattered flash flooding can be expected, the NHC said.
Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency in 33 counties in preparation for the storm's arrival.

In the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancun and other coastal tourist resorts, Idalia dumped rain and put a damper on one of the last weekends of summer vacations.

Heavy rainfall is expected across parts of the eastern Yucatan in Mexico and western Cuba.

A week ago, Hilary, which at one point rose to a Category 4 hurricane on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, hit the state of Baja California on Mexico's Pacific coast as a tropical storm, causing one death and damaging infrastructure.

Hurricanes hit Mexico every year on both its Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

Scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer due to climate change.