Fueled by Warm Waters and Supermoon, Hurricane Idalia Slams Southeast, 3 Dead

Aug 31, 2023

Hurricane Idalia slammed into the Florida panhandle Wednesday. It brought high winds, heavy rains, and a flooding storm surge as it headed through Georgia and the Carolinas.  

The storm was linked to the deaths of two Florida drivers and a Georgia man struck by a tree. It left nearly 383,000 without power in four states as of 10pm EDT, according to PowerOutage.Us. 

Experts warned those in the path of the storm to avoid going outside. That was even after Idalia was downgraded to a tropical storm Wednesday evening. Large swaths of the coastal Southeast remained under severe weather alerts. That's as people started to take stock of the storm's damage. Many roads and bridges remained too flooded for cars to pass.    

“Make no mistake, this hurricane left its mark. The reality is we are not done dealing with (it),” St. Petersburg's mayor told The Associated Press (AP).

One major concern is storm surge. Those are floodwaters pushed inland by the storm. Water levels rose 15 feet higher than normal in some areas along Florida’s coast. That's enough to wash away cars. The threat could last for days.  

Two factors helped power the surge. Record ocean water temperatures fed the storm moisture and energy. And Wednesday’s “blue supermoon” led to higher tides.

“When the moon is full, the sun and the moon are pulling in the same direction," a professor of atmospheric science told the AP. That "has the effect of increasing tides above normal ranges." 

A supermoon creates higher tides because it occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth. That means it has a stronger gravitational pull on tidewaters.

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: What do you think are the most important things for people to do to stay safe during a hurricane? How do you think communities can work together to help each other before, during, and after a hurricane?

Based on the author’s word choice, Hurricane Idalia would best be described as _______. (Common Core RI.5.4; RI.6.4)
a. weak
b. powerful
c. calm
d. unpredictable
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