Hurricane Idalia is flooding Florida. Which areas are getting the worst storm surge?

Hurricane Idalia is flooding stretches of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Rapidly moving storm surge left coastal areas in the Big Bend region underwater, including Horseshoe Beach in Dixie County, Steinhatchee in Taylor County and Cedar Key in Levy County.

“Incredible #Idalia storm surge 6’ and counting here at Cedar Key, FL,” Weather Channel’s Meteorologist Jim Cantore posted early Wednesday, shortly before Idalia’s landfall. The storm made landfall as a Category 3 near Keaton Beach shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday.

A river gauge in the Steinhatchee recorded a rapid increase of water from 1 to 8 feet in the span of an hour, according to the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee.

“When we say the storm surge threat would increase rapidly, this is what we meant,” the Tallahassee weather service wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Storm surge is rising water pushed onto land by a storm’s wind, and above or beyond the regular tide levels an area experiences, according to the National Hurricane Center. Flooding from storm surge depends on several factors, including a storm’s track, strength, speed and size. It’s a storm’s most dangerous threat.

Idalia’s forecast shows the storm weakening as it moves over Florida and into Georgia later Wednesday before moving into the Carolinas. It’s expected to go into the Atlantic Ocean as a tropical storm.

The National Weather Service office in Tampa Bay wrote on X that surge concerns will continue along the west coast even as Idalia pulls away from the area, with the highest surge expected to occur around the time of high tide in the afternoon.

Which part of Florida could see the most storm surge? And what about Georgia and the Carolinas?

Here’s what forecasters say:

Which part of Florida will see the most storm surge?

The National Hurricane Center in its Wednesday advisory said it expects “catastrophic impacts from storm surge inundation of 12 to 16 feet above ground level and destructive waves are expected somewhere between the Wakulla/Jefferson County line and Yankeetown, Florida.”

“Life-threatening storm surge inundation is likely elsewhere along portions of the Florida Gulf Coast where a Storm Surge Warning is in effect. Residents in these areas should follow any advice given by local officials,” the hurricane center said.

Idalia storm surge watches and warnings

A storm surge warning is in effect from Englewood north to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay, in Florida. A warning also remains for St. Catherine’s Sound in Georgia to the South Santee River in South Carolina.

A storm surge watch is in effect for Bonita Beach north to the middle of Longboat Key in Florida. A watch also remains from the Indian Pass west to Mexico Beach and from Florida’s Sebastian Inlet to the North Carolina/Virginia border. Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds in North Carolina are also under watch.

How much storm surge will Idalia bring Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas?

See the map below for the hurricane center’s peak storm surge prediction.

Hurricane Idalia is forecast to bring dangerous storm surge to Florida.
Hurricane Idalia is forecast to bring dangerous storm surge to Florida.