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Florida on high alert as Gulf of Mexico storm develops

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is expected by many to announce his candidacy for president in the coming weeks or months. Speaking here at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, 2022. AFP/File
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is expected by many to announce his candidacy for president in the coming weeks or months. Speaking here at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, 2022. AFP/File

Florida is on high alert as a potential tropical storm gathers strength in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The US National Hurricane Center has warned of the likelihood of flash floods and landslides affecting the eastern Yucatan peninsula, western Cuba, and potentially Florida. As the weather system off the Mexican coast intensifies, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for much of the state’s Gulf coast. 

The looming weather system’s path has raised concerns about the Gulf Coast and Panhandle regions. The National Hurricane Center has cautioned about the possibility of perilous storm surge, heavy rainfall, and strong winds hitting these areas by midweek.

DeSantis’ emergency declaration encompasses 33 out of Florida’s 67 counties, encompassing the Gulf coast from Fort Myers to Panama City. With a 70% chance of the system developing into a tropical storm by Monday (90% overall), the potential name “Idalia” is reserved for it. Notably, this storm is not projected to follow the trajectory of the devastating Hurricane Ian from the previous year, sparing the areas of southwest Florida that were affected.

Governor DeSantis emphasised the importance of preparedness and planning for families, urging residents to have hurricane supply kits ready. The storm is anticipated to curve northeastward, potentially making landfall north of Tampa and traversing the state towards southeast Georgia in the Atlantic Ocean.

While the US East Coast has remained unscathed by cyclones this year, the western regions have faced Tropical Storm Hilary, causing widespread disruptions in Mexico, California, Nevada, and surrounding areas. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revised its hurricane season forecast, predicting heightened activity due to unusually warm ocean temperatures. With the peak season running until November 30, Florida remains vigilant throughout the months of August and September.

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