As of Monday morning, Tropical Storm Idalia is located just east of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and carrying top sustained winds of 65 miles per hour. However, within hours it is expected to gain enough force to become Hurricane Idalia as it begins a right hook into Florida’s Gulf Coast. When the storm arrives in Florida on Tuesday evening, it is expected to be a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of at least 96 mph.
Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast a below average hurricane season. That’s the typical pattern in a year where the El Niño ocean current is dominant. Since then they’ve revised that forecast twice, each time increasing the number of expected storms. They are now calling for an above average season, and Idalia looks to be the first storm headed for shore in the east.
At the moment, the storm is expected to strike the northern Gulf Coast above Tampa in the area around Cedar Key. Though the storm is only a day away from arrival, its exact scale and speed are difficult to predict given its rapid development in the record-warm waters of the Gulf. But some Florida homeowners are facing another unknown: How are they going to pay for storm damage in a state where home insurance is increasingly difficult to find?