Hurricane Idalia: Florida braced for ‘extremely dangerous’ category 4 hurricane – latest updates
Florida governor Ron DeSantis is holding a press conference.
He just said that “the full impact” of the hurricane will “most likely” hit in the next couple of hours.
“Please hunker down,” he said. “Don’t mess with this storm.”
He said the storm could hit Big Bend by 8am local time. That is is about an hour and ten minutes.
Here is the latest update from the National Hurricane Center:
Residents in northern Florida are rushing to evacuate as Hurricane Idalia is due to hit, with forecasters warning that it will come ashore as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of at least 130 mph (209 kph).
Idalia grew to hurricane strength early on Tuesday and is predicted to slam into the Big Bend region on Florida’s Gulf Coast early on Wednesday local time (in the next few hours).
The National Hurricane Center has warned of “catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds” that it said “will begin soon”.
States of emergency have been declared in Florida, North and South Carolina and Georgia. Residents of vulnerable coastal areas in Florida have been ordered to evacuate, with governor Ron DeSantis warning: “You really gotta go now. Now is the time.” In total, 28 of the state’s 67 counties are under evacuation orders.
The storm’s path is expected to impact a wide central portion of the state, including cities such as Tampa and Orlando, and move close to the Carolina coastline on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center added.
President Joe Biden has signed a federal order freeing up personnel and resources, including search and rescue teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).
Hello and welcome to the live blog. Oliver Holmes here, and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments as Idalia makes landfall.