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Hurricane Idalia heads for Florida as residents rush to evacuate – live

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More than 20 Florida counties issue evacuation orders

More than 20 counties in western and Central Florida have issued evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Idalia’s expected landfall on Wednesday morning, including parts of Tampa, the state’s third-largest city.

The counties that have issued mandatory evacuation orders are:

  • Citrus County

  • Dixie County

  • Franklin County

  • Gulf County

  • Lafayette County

  • Levy County

  • Pasco County

  • Pinellas County

  • Suwannee County

  • Taylor County

  • Wakulla County

The counties under voluntary evacuation orders or advised residents to evacuate are:

  • Alachua County

  • Baker County

  • Gilchrist County

  • Hillsborough County

  • Jefferson County

  • Hernando County

  • Madison County

  • Manatee County

  • Marion County

  • Nassau County

  • Sarasota County

  • Sumter County

  • Union County

  • Volusia County

Hurricane Idalia closes in on Florida as residents race to evacuate

Hello and welcome. A rapidly intensifying Idalia grew to hurricane strength early on Tuesday and is expected to make landfall on Florida’s Gulf coast on Wednesday, as residents in more than a dozen counties rushed to evacuate amid warnings of a life-threatening storm surge and destructive 120mph (193km/h) winds.

Idalia threatens to develop into an “extremely dangerous major hurricane” and lash the Gulf coast, with flash flooding and urban flooding also likely, the National Hurricane Center said. It currently remains a category 1 hurricane for now, but is expected to undergo rapid intensification and become an extremely dangerous category 3 hurricane before landfall on Wednesday.

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 said.

“You still have time this morning to make your final preparations … but you gotta do that now,” the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, announced at the state’s emergency operations center.

DeSantis on Monday placed 46 of Florida’s 67 counties under an emergency declaration, and Joe Biden signed a federal order freeing up personnel and resources, including Fema search and rescue teams.

We’ll bring you the latest news from the hurricane as it comes.

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