State of Emergency Declared in Florida Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Approaches

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for the state’s Gulf coast as a potential tropical storm looms off the coast of Mexico and threatens to move towards the area. The declaration covers a significant portion of the Gulf coast, including 33 out of the state’s 67 counties.

According to the National Hurricane Center, there is a 70% chance that the system will develop into a tropical storm by Monday, with a 90% chance overall. If the storm does form, it will be named “Idalia.” However, current forecast models do not show the storm’s center approaching the areas of southwest Florida that were devastated by Hurricane Ian last year.

While it is unclear whether the storm will reach hurricane strength or its precise path, the potential impacts are significant. Any storm of this nature can result in heavy flooding, power outages, coastal storm surge, and tornadoes.

Governor DeSantis issued the executive order in order to ensure that the Florida Division of Emergency Management has sufficient time to prepare resources and for Floridians to make their own storm preparations. He urged residents to have a plan in place and to ensure that their hurricane supply kit is stocked.

Forecast models currently show the storm curving northeast towards Florida, making landfall along the Gulf coast north of Tampa and then crossing the state diagonally before emerging in the Atlantic Ocean near southeast Georgia.

This year’s hurricane season has been relatively quiet for the U.S. East Coast, but Tropical Storm Hilary caused significant flooding, mudslides, and road closures in Mexico, California, Nevada, and surrounding areas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently revised their forecast for the 2023 hurricane season, predicting that it will be more active than initially anticipated due to unusually warm ocean temperatures. The hurricane season runs through November 30, with August and September typically being the most active months.