Tropical Storm Idalia formed off the Yucatan Peninsula late Sunday morning, with sustained winds of 40 mph. The storm is expected to reach major hurricane status, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said.
Key Biscayne officials said they were monitoring the system for impacts.
The following alerts were issued Sunday:
Hurricane Watch: for the Gulf coast of Florida from Englewood to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay.
Tropical Storm Watch: for the coast south of Englewood to Chokoloskee, and for the Dry Tortugas.
At the moment, steering currents are weak, said Senior Hurricane Specialist Richard Pasch, but Idalia will start to move northward into the Gulf of Mexico the next couple of days. Idalia will be moving over very warm water in the Gulf, and strengthening is expected – but Pasch said it will be tempered by wind shear.
The greatest threat was to Florida’s west coast, and storm watches may be issued later today. Forecasters said portions of Florida could get 3 to 6 inches of rain, with higher amounts up to 10 inches in some spots.
In Key Biscayne, Fire Chief Eric Lang said department heads were reviewing storm preparedness in case Idalia creates impacts on the island. The combination of storm rainfall along with King Tides and a full moon Aug. 30th is reason to be alert.
“I am very focused on that,” he said.
At 5 p.m. Eastern Time, the center of Idalia was about 95 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, crawling north-eastward at 3 mph.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.