Science and TechNatural Disasters


Biden approves major disaster declaration as Idalia exits US

Roadways and airports are reopening after Idalia came ashore as a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday.
Posted at 7:07 AM, Aug 31, 2023

The center of once-powerful Hurricane Idalia is out at sea on Thursday as a tropical storm after coming ashore Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane. 

The storm's estimated top winds were 125 mph when it came ashore, which came hours after briefly attaining Category 4 status. 

Biden declares major disaster

President Joe Biden approved Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' request to declare a major disaster. The major disaster approval allows residents in seven hard-hit Florida counties to obtain grants for temporary housing and home repairs. They can also use low-cost loans to cover uninsured losses. President

Biden's order also provides federal funding to share the cost of emergency work in hard-hit parts of Florida. 

The declaration covers the following Florida counties: Citrus, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee and Taylor.

Idalia's current status

Tropical Storm Idalia drifted off the North Carolina coast Thursday morning, and as of early Tuesday afternoon, is packing top winds of 65 mph. Coastal Carolina could get an additional inch of rain on Thursday before it pulls away from the coast.

The National Hurricane Center said some areas of North Carolina's coast could experience 2-4 feet of water rise.

Tropical storm warnings remain in place for much of North Carolina's coast.

Idalia aftermath will test Southwest Airlines after winter meltdown
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 lands

Idalia aftermath will test Southwest Airlines after winter meltdown

More than 2.7 million Americans are slated to travel on Friday ahead of the Labor Day holiday, just days after Hurricane Idalia's landfall.


Where is Idalia going?

Idalia is expected to continue moving east as a tropical storm. The National Hurricane Center said little change in its strength is expected in the next day or two, but gradual weakening is possible after that. 

Idalia could approach Bermuda early next week as a tropical storm.  

How much wind, rain did areas get?

The top recorded wind gust from Idalia came from Perry, Florida, where an 85 mph gust was measured at the Perry-Foley Airport. Keaton Beach, near where Idalia came ashore on Wednesday, recorded a peak wind gust of 77 mph.

High winds were also experienced in Georgia. Valdosta Regional Airport recorded a top wind gust of 67 mph.

Idalia also brought a large amount of rain, even with it being relatively fast-moving. Clearwater Beach, Florida, received 9.4 inches of rain from the storm. Valdosta had over 5 inches of rain.

Cleaning up

Although officials have already cleared many roadways, power remains out for some.

There are nearly 150,000 power customers, mostly in Florida's Big Bend region, without power as of Thursday morning, according to There were also about 117,000 power outages in Georgia as of Thursday morning.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said all state bridges in the affected areas have been cleared and are safe. His office said crews cleared 6,600 miles of roadway on Wednesday after Idalia made landfall. 

DeSantis has called upon 5,300 members of the Florida National Guard to continue with cleanup efforts.

Idalia brings widespread damage, but few injuries and deaths
Flooding in Florida from Hurricane Idalia

Idalia brings widespread damage, but few injuries and deaths

One person died in Georgia after a tree fell on them, officials said. Search and rescue operations are ongoing amid heavy flooding and wind damage.


Airports reopen

Tampa International Airport began accepting arrivals at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The airport said it was fully operational as of 3 a.m. Thursday morning. 

Tallahassee International Airport fully reopened Wednesday afternoon. 

Charleston International Airport suspended operations Wednesday evening. The airport reopened at 8 a.m. Thursday. About 18 flights leaving Charleston were canceled on Thursday, according to FlightAware.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is open, but it has already canceled 13 flights for Thursday, according to FlightAware.