Update: Idalia became a hurricane early Tuesday and warnings have been issued for Florida's Gulf Coast. Landfall is expected Wednesday. Read the. Our earlier story is below.
Storm surge and hurricane watches have been issued for portions of Cuba and the Florida Gulf Coast asis forecast to become a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said.
The NHC issued a storm surge watch Sunday afternoon for the Gulf Coast from Chokoloskee to Indian Pass, and a hurricane watch from Englewood to Indian Pass. Both watches include Tampa Bay.
A tropical storm watch was also issued for the Gulf Coast south of Englewood to Chokoloskee, and for the Dry Tortugas, NHC said in its latest public advisory.
Idalia had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and was located about 145 miles south of Cuba as of Sunday night. It had been moving erratically and was "nearly stationary" as of 11 p.m. ET Sunday, but movement toward the north-northeast was expected Monday. Idalia is expected to strengthen to a hurricane on Monday.
The center of Idalia will move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Monday and Tuesday and approach the northeast Gulf Coast late Tuesday. The storm was predicted to be "near or at major hurricane intensity,", by the time it reaches Flordia.
"There is an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle beginning as early as Tuesday," the NHC said.
Flooding from heavy rainfall will be likely in portions of the southeast U.S. by mid to late week.
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