Rare natural spectacle: pilots film the St. Elms fire during hurricane operations

With wind speeds of up to 215 kilometers per hour and hurricane force 4, hurricane "Idalia" headed for the US state of Florida on Wednesday.

Rare natural spectacle: pilots film the St. Elms fire during hurricane operations

With wind speeds of up to 215 kilometers per hour and hurricane force 4, hurricane "Idalia" headed for the US state of Florida on Wednesday. The US hurricane center warned that the hurricane could gain strength over the warm Gulf of Mexico before it hits the Big Bend coast in northwest Florida. The authorities spoke of a storm of the century and ordered evacuations for large areas along the northwest coast of the state. The hurricane center warned of meter-high storm surges on Florida's coasts. "Few people survive being in the path of a major storm surge, and this storm will be deadly if we don't avoid the danger and take it seriously," said Deanne Criswell, Disaster Management Chief.

According to the authorities, the region around the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, where three million people live, was particularly at risk. Harbingers of "Idalia" brought the first floods in Fort Myers Beach south of Tampa and in Pinellas County early Wednesday morning. Several streets were flooded there. All residents have been urged not to drive and to stay in safe shelters. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Idalia could become the strongest hurricane to hit the region in more than 100 years. According to the hurricane center, the storm should bring heavy rains to parts of Florida and the neighboring states of Georgia and South Carolina, and thus the risk of flooding. Tornadoes in the wake of the hurricane are also to be expected.

Tampa International Airport suspended traffic, and the ports of Jacksonville, Fernandina and Canaveral were closed to shipping. Last year, nearly 150 people died when Hurricane Ian swept across Florida's west coast. "Idalia" should make landfall further north in the Big Bend region. The area is characterized by swampland, unlike many other areas of Florida, the coast there is not protected from high waves by offshore islands. Every year, tropical storms and hurricanes hit the coasts of Mexico, the United States and the Caribbean, but experts say climate change will make them more frequent and severe.

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