Idalia Expected to Become Hurricane – What it Means for Louisiana
Just after midnight Louisiana time Tropical Storm Idalia was positioned about 150 miles south of the western tip of Cuba. This location places the center of the storm the in extreme northwestern Caribbean Sea. Idalia is not only forecast to move out of the Caribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico over the next 24 hours, it's also forecast to become a hurricane within that same general time frame.
The latest update on the storm from the National Hurricane Center showed Idalia was basically stationary but was expected to begin moving northward during the day today. The maximum sustained winds with the storm were reported to be 60 mph. However, an increase in strength is expected.
Tropical forecast models seem to suggest that Idalia will be an issue for the western coast of Florida by the middle of this week. The storm's biggest impacts will likely come from storm surge flooding as the system's location in the Gulf, the rotation of the winds around it, and the proximity of the western coast of Florida are all going to come into play making this a very costly storm, at least in dollars and cents. Let's hope there will be no human lives lost since there is plenty of time to make preparations ahead of Idalia's arrival.
What Effects Will Idalia Have on Louisiana and the Louisiana Coastline?
Coastal residents who have been through a hurricane or two will know what I mean when I say "Louisiana is on the good side of the storm". Generally, areas to the west of the center of circulation of a hurricane don't get the worst of the weather.
Of course, Idalia is expected to track several hundred miles to the east of Louisiana so the distance will play a part in minimizing the effects. But there is one danger from Idalia we don't normally see with tropical systems.
While we certainly won't see storm surge and heavy rain from Idalia as we almost always expect with a tropical system we will get some gusty breezes. Those gusty winds could exacerbate the already dangerous fire conditions that are prevalent across most of Louisiana.
The winds coming from the backside of Idalia will be from the north and that usually means even lower humidities. And while it might feel a bit nicer to be outside with less humidity and a nice breeze, it will certainly become an issue if some of the 400+ wildfires burning across Louisiana aren't brought under control by midweek.
There is hope that today and Tuesday's forecast showers could ease some of the dry conditions and at least help firefighters gain control of the trouble spots that are still burning across the state.
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