Why Idalia is truly a historic storm

Hurricane Idalia is a storm that is destined for the record books in Florida.

While major hurricane strikes in the state have happened before, Idalia is special in many ways.

First Big Bend Strike in over 125 years

Idalia is the first major hurricane to strike the Big Bend region in over 125 years.

The only hurricane close to the magnitude was the 1896 Cedar Key hurricane.

This means the vast majority of residents in the Big Bend have never seen a storm of this caliber.

The 1896 hurricane was a Category 3 major hurricane with estimated winds of 125 mph.

The system produced 8-12 feet of storm surge and caused $3 million dollars in damages to the state.

Idalia came ashore near Keaton Beach with winds of 125 mph and a preliminary estimate of 5-7 feet of storm surge.

Had Idalia maintained Category 4 status, it would have strongest storm to hit the Big Bend region in recorded history.

The 8th Major Hurricane Gulf Coast Strike

Idalia joins a growing list of major hurricane strikes along the US Gulf coast since 2017.

Including Idalia, there have now been 8 major hurricane strikes in the last 6 years.

This includes Harvey and Irma in 2017, Michael in 2018, Laura and Zeta in 2020, Ida in 2021 and Ian in 2022.

This has been a remarkable uptick in major hurricane strikes in this portion of the US.

From 2006-2016, no major hurricanes made landfall in the Gulf Coast region.

The Rapid Intensification Before Landfall

Idalia also joins a list of hurricanes that underwent rapid intensification before landfall.

Since 1950, just 10 hurricanes underwent rapid intensification before landfall.

9 of those 10 hurricanes were in the Gulf, and 5 of those 10 were Gulf hurricanes that have hit in the last 7 years.

Idalia, with a 45 mph wind increase before landfall, was fourth on the list.

The most intensification since 1950 was Hurricane Humberto in 2007, with an incredible 65 mph wind increase before landfall in Texas.ef

The Odd Northward Movement

While not necessarily historic, Idalia’s movement due north toward the Big Bend was peculiar for late August.

Idalia developed in the northwestern Caribbean near the Yucatan Peninsula.

While systems often develop or intensify in that area in August, the steering winds often take these complexes into the western Gulf or across the Yucatan.

Because of a trough over the western Gulf of Mexico, Idalia was forced to lift northward and into the Big Bend.

This is a track more common in the back end of hurricane season, during late September and October.

While Florida is used to seeing impactful hurricanes, Idalia is truly a historic storm, especially for those in the Big Bend region.

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