MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Idalia formed Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico on a potential track to come ashore as a hurricane in the southern U.S., the National Hurricane Center said.
At 11:15 a.m., the storm was located about 80 miles (129 kilometers) east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, moving east at 2 mph (3.2 kph) with highest sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph), forecasters said. Hurricanes have winds of 74 mph (119 kph) and above.
Forecasters said they expected Idalia to become a hurricane on Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico and then curve northeast toward the west coast of Florida. Initial forecasts indicated that could happen on Wednesday. It was not expected to menace southwest Florida where deadly Hurricane Ian struck last year.
Tropical storm conditions are expected Sunday over the Yucatan peninsula and western Cuba.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday in a post on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, that he has directed state emergency officials begin preparations for a storm.
“Residents should remain vigilant and prepare for possible impacts early next week,” said the Republican governor, who is a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.
So far this year, the U.S. East Coast has been spared from cyclones but in the west, Tropical Storm Hilary caused widespread flooding, mudslides and road closures earlier this month in Mexico, California, Nevada and points to the north.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently said the 2023 hurricane season would be far busier than initially forecast, partly because of extremely warm ocean temperatures. The season runs through Nov. 30, with August and September typically the peak.