Powerful Hurricane Idalia Makes Landfall in the Big Bend of Florida

  • Released Wednesday, August 30th, 2023
  • Updated Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 12:20AM
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After threatening much of Florida’s western coast, Hurricane Idalia made landfall Wednesday morning in the Big Bend region of Florida’s northwest coast near Keaton Beach at 7:45 a.m. EDT, Aug. 30, as a strong Category 3 storm with sustained winds reported at 125 mph by the National Hurricane Center.

Idalia’s formation was somewhat unusual. Typically, when entering the heart of the hurricane season tropical storms and hurricanes form and expand eastward across the tropical Atlantic region towards Africa’s coast. However, storms occasionally still form in the western Caribbean, as was the case with Idalia, which became a tropical depression (TD #10) on the afternoon of Aug. 26, about 65 miles (~105 km) northeast of Cozumel, Mexico, near the Yucatan Channel. The broad area of low pressure leading to TD #10, first began in the far Eastern Pacific within the Intertropical Convergence Zone, where water temperatures are running above normal due to the ongoing El Niño, before drifting northward across Central America and into the far western Caribbean. After becoming a tropical depression on Aug. 26, the soon-to-be-named Idalia spent the next day and a half making a loop in the far northwest corner of the Caribbean, during which time it became a strong tropical storm. On the morning of Aug. 28 Idalia settled into a northerly track, drawn northward by a trough of low pressure over the central Gulf of Mexico and strengthening high pressure to the east. Around 10:00 p.m. CDT, Idalia passed near the western tip of Cuba as a strong tropical storm and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

The above animation shows Idalia as it made its way through the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The animation begins with a 24-hour time loop of surface rainfall estimates from NASA’s IMERG precipitation product starting at 11:11 pm EDT on Aug. 28 (03:11 UTC Aug. 29) just as Idalia was passing the western tip of Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico. IMERG shows that initially Idalia’s rain field was very asymmetric with most of the heavy rain (in red) located south and east of the center. However, IMERG also shows heavy rain consolidating around the center as the storm moved further into the Gulf as well as fairly persistent bands of moderate (in orange) to heavy rain moving over Florida on the eastern side of the storm. Over the course of the IMERG animation, Idalia strengthened from a strong tropical storm to a Category 2 hurricane at 5:00 pm EDT (21:00 UTC).

The second part of the animation shows a detailed look into the structure and intensity of Idalia’s precipitation, as observed by the NASA/JAXA GPM Core Observatory when it flew over the storm around 11:41 pm EDT on Aug. 29 (03:41 UTC Aug. 30) when the center of Idalia was about 125 miles due west of Tampa, FL. Surface rainfall estimates from the GPM Microwave Imager show heavy rain (in red) all around the center of the storm, with areas of intense rain (shown in magenta) near the center and around the eastern side of the center. Heavy rainbands also extend over most of western peninsular Florida and into the central panhandle region. GPM’s Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar scanned the southwest half of the storm to provide a 3D perspective of its precipitation. Areas shaded in blue show frozen precipitation high in the atmosphere. The height of this precipitation indicates intense thunderstorms within the hurricane in addition to the surface rain intensity. The DPR shows several deep convective towers both in the outer rainbands and in the southwest part of the eyewall, which are associated with the areas of intense rain. Other deep towers are likely present east of the center where there are areas of intense surface rain, but they are not visible in this animation due to being outside of the DPR’s swath.
At the time of the GPM overpass Idalia was a strong Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 110 mph. Idalia would go on to further intensify, briefly becoming a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 145 mph before weakening prior to making landfall. Idalia then made its way rapidly across southeastern Georgia and into the coastal Carolinas, bringing strong winds and heavy rain, before exiting the coast. The storm has also been responsible for bringing widespread coastal flooding to much of the west coast of Florida, especially in the Big Bend, as well as the Coastal Carolinas.

Color bar for frozen precipitation rates (ie, snow rates). Shades of cyan represent low amounts of frozen precipitation, whereas shades of purple represent high amounts of precipitation.

Color bar for frozen precipitation rates (ie, snow rates). Shades of cyan represent low amounts of frozen precipitation, whereas shades of purple represent high amounts of precipitation.

Color bar for liquid precipitation rates (ie, rain rates). Shades of green represent low amounts of liquid precipitation, whereas shades of red represent high amounts of precipitation.

Color bar for liquid precipitation rates (ie, rain rates). Shades of green represent low amounts of liquid precipitation, whereas shades of red represent high amounts of precipitation.



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. Data provided by the joint NASA/JAXA GPM mission.


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