Hurricane Idalia in the Gulf of Mexico intensified again on its way towards the US state of Florida and reached hurricane category three out of five. Persistent wind speeds of around 193 kilometers per hour were measured early Wednesday morning (local time), according to the US Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami.
"Idalia" was therefore still about 160 kilometers away from the Florida coast. The storm is expected to make landfall on Wednesday morning (local time) as the second strongest category four hurricane in the north of the state, it said.
Numerous precautions have been taken in Florida. In several districts, residents were asked to leave their homes and get to safety. In the Big Bend region south of the capital Tallahassee, "catastrophic storm surges and destructive winds" are to be expected, the hurricane center warned. After making landfall, the storm will continue to move towards the states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, it said. There were also warnings of heavy rain and flooding.
Last fall, Hurricane Ian caused tremendous damage in Florida, killing more than a hundred people. At that time, the center of the storm was a little further south and in a more densely populated area than now expected. Tropical cyclone season lasts from June to November in the Atlantic. According to experts, climate change is increasing the likelihood of strong storms.