Hurricane Idalia slammed into the west coast of Florida this morning as a high-end, Category 3 storm, moving in a northeasterly track toward Georgia.
Along with the storm came a surge of rising water levels along the Gulf Coast from Tampa Bay around Florida’s Big Bend toward Panama City.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Idalia made landfall about 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) near Keaton Beach, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. It is the eighth major hurricane to make landfall along the Gulf Coast since 2017.
Shortly after 9 a.m. ET today, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide station reported water levels in Cedar Key, Florida, in the “major flooding” category. The agency reported water levels that were over 6 feet above the predicted high tide, and still rising.
Extreme high-wind warnings remained in effect along Big Bend, Florida, counties this morning. In Alabama, south of Interstate 85 and east of Interstate 65 sustained winds were predicted to be in the 10- to 20-mph range into Wednesday evening with gusts from 15 to 40 mph, especially in counties near the Georgia and Florida state lines. Alabama is not expected to receive any significant rain from Idalia.
Alabama Power on Tuesday dispatched 325 company employees, including line crews and support personnel, along with 360 contract resources, to Georgia to provide support to sister company Georgia Power. Alabama Power has mutual assistance agreements with other investor-owned utilities to provide support when needed. Those mutual assistance agreements also ensure Alabama Power can call on additional resources from other utilities when major storms affect its service territory.
As of 11 a.m. ET, more than 267,000 outages were being reported in Florida and more than 37,000 in Georgia, according to poweroutage.us.
Dwight Russell, crew foreman at Alabama Power’s 12th Street crew headquarters in Birmingham, was among the company personnel who headed on Tuesday to Macon, Georgia, where they would be positioned to assist as needed.
“When another company calls, we send out word to tell our crews to pack bags and come to work and set a destination for us to show up, and we go to work,” Russell said.
Alabama is not expected to receive significant rain from Idalia, and only a portion of southeast Alabama is in the “marginal” risk category for any flash flooding over the next three days. (National Hurricane Center)
Alabama Power crews are often sought after by other utilities when severe weather strikes because of their extensive experience restoring power following a range of natural disasters, from hurricanes and tornadoes to winter ice storms.
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, Alabama Power was reporting no customer outages related to Hurricane Idalia.
While Alabama Power crews are ready when bad weather threatens, Alabama Power customers also should be prepared as this year’s hurricane season kicks into high gear.
To learn more about preparing for severe weather, visit Alabama Power’s online Storm Center at AlabamaPower.com/Storm. Customers can also sign up for Outage Alerts to receive text message or email updates when power is affected by storms or other factors. The company also provides an online, interactive outage map where customers can check on any outages across the company and view live weather radar.
Customers experiencing an outage can report it to the company online at alabamapower.com or by calling the company’s outage reporting line at 800-888-2726.