The system, which was downgraded from a Category 4, is reported to have had maximum sustained winds of 125 MPH with higher gusts when it made landfall in Big Bend just before 8:00 p.m. ET local time. Storm surge damage is expected to possibly extend 200 miles along Florida's west coast with an estimated 12 to 16 feet of storm surge possible in the Big Bend area.
“Devastating damage will occur,” according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which rates storms 1 to 5 based on a hurricane's maximum sustained wind speed and possible resulting damage, via NBC News.
"Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads," the scale added.
Idalia is expected to bring "life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds and scattered flash and urban flooding" to areas located along the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle, the National Weather Service said in its update on Monday (August 28). Parts of the west coast of Florida, the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and the eastern Carolinas are all expected to get several inches of rain, while isolated totals could reach up to 12 inches.
The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee has issued a warning that “locations may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months” due to wind damage brought on by Hurricane Idalia and that storm surge could also prevent access. Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey also warned that Idalia could be the biggest storm to ever hit the state's capital city.
“Stay home and stay in place,” Dailey warned residents via NBC News' Willie Geist.