WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Florida as Hurricane Idalia approaches and strengthens.
Idalia is projected to grow to a Category 3 hurricane as it approaches the Florida coast, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, bringing with it heavy rain, wind and the potential for storm surge. It is expected to reach the Florida coast by Wednesday morning.
“This is going to be a major impact,” DeSantis said Monday.
Biden spoke with DeSantis on Monday morning and assured him that the federal government would fully support the state in preparation for the storm and the aftermath.
Declaring an emergency allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief and provide needed assistance.
As of Monday morning, the storm was 90 miles off the western coast of Cuba with winds up to 65 miles per hour.
The National Hurricane Center said a storm surge warning for life-threatening rising water is in effect for much of Florida’s western coastline, including Tampa Bay and the Big Bend region of Florida.
Kevin Guthrie, executive director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said the system is expected to bring seven to 10 feet of storm surge in Pinellas County, which is near Tampa Bay, according to NBC News.
The Tampa International Airport will close at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday with all flights suspended due to the impending storm, the airport said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.
The National Hurricane Center urged Florida residents to heed advice given by local officials.
Flash flooding is expected along the west coast of Florida, the panhandle and areas of southern Georgia, eventually spreading to the eastern Carolinas.