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Catastrophic Storm Surge Averted: How Idalia’s Timely Arrival Saved Florida Coast

A weather service team studied the catastrophic storm surge area, checking home markings for water levels. (Photo: Google)

The hurricane unleashed winds of 125 miles per hour in the vicinity of Keaton Beach, causing a catastrophic storm surge that raised water levels by 7 to 12 feet along over 33 miles of coastline.

The weather service will compare this catastrophic storm surge event to the 1993 storm to assess its impact further. (Photo: Google)

On August 30th, Hurricane Idalia made landfall along the Florida coast as a Category 3 hurricane, unleashing a devastating and catastrophic storm surge that resulted in widespread destruction.

According to an article published by USA Today, hurricane Idalia hit the Florida coast as a Category 3 storm on August 30, causing significant damage. The storm brought 125-mph winds near Keaton Beach and a catastrophic storm surge that pushed water levels 7-12 feet higher along more than 33 miles of coastline.

It was the first Category 3 storm to hit this sparsely populated coast in decades, bringing with it a catastrophic storm surge that devastated Gulf-front communities and caused damage estimated at $3 billion to $5 billion in insured losses. What helped mitigate the disaster was that Idalia arrived at low tide.

If it had hit during high tide, the catastrophic storm surge could have made water levels 3-4 feet higher. The catastrophic storm surge inundated numerous structures along the coast and traveled several miles inland.

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Residents in the affected area compared the water levels to the infamous “Storm of the Century” in 1993, with many saying Idalia’s levels rivaled or exceeded those of 1993.

According to an article published by Flipboard, a weather service survey team studied the catastrophic storm surge zone, examining water and debris marks on homes to determine the water levels. They also used data from a river gauge, which showed a significant rise in river height during the catastrophic storm surge.

In some areas, like Cedar Key, water levels reached almost 7 feet above dry ground due to the catastrophic storm surge. In Fort Myers, located over 240 miles south, water levels reached 3.2 feet, though this was less impacted by the catastrophic storm surge.

The weather service plans to compare surveys from this catastrophic storm surge event to those of the 1993 storm to make further determinations about the impact.

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