CEDAR KEY, FLORIDA — Hurricane Idalia pummeled Florida’s Big Bend on Wednesday morning, bringing sustained winds of 110 miles per hour and more than eight feet of storm surge in some areas.
The storm was downgraded from a Category 4 to a Category 3 hurricane just before it made landfall at 7:45 am near Keaton Beach. Cedar Key experienced between eight and nine feet of storm surge, shattering the town’s previous water level record.
Coastal areas along the gulf have also experienced flooding, including in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Fort Myers.
As of 11 am, more than 273,000 Floridians had lost power, with the vast majority of outages coming from counties in the Big Bend region. In Suwannee County, more than 95 percent of residents were without power.
The National Weather Service issued an extreme wind warning in Dixie and Taylor counties and a tornado watch is in place for nearly 12 million people across central and northern Florida and southeast Georgia until 3 pm on Wednesday.
As of 10 am, Idalia’s maximum sustained wind speeds were measured at 105 miles per hour. The storm has reached Southeast Georgia and is projected to continue moving northeast into South Carolina.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story will be updated throughout the day.