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5:00 pm UPDATE: Hurricane Idalia Still a Threat, But Trends are Positive for Lake Wales

Tropical Storm Force Winds Likely, But Hurricane Force Should Stay Away

Series: Weather | Story 8

The 5:00 pm update from the National Hurricane Center contains some positive news for the Lake Wales area as the most recent model runs for future movements of Tropical Storm Idalia trended very slightly to the west, which would keep the center of the storm away from the central Florida coastline, aiming it instead for the sparsely-populated Big Bend area of the Gulf Coast.

On the cautionary side, however, is an increased expectation of rapid intensification, assuring that it will make its closest pass to our area as a major Hurricane. Chances of Tropical Storm-force winds along the Ridge have grown by the hour.

Idalia is expected to become a Hurricane this evening with winds exceeding 120 kilometers per hour, or 75 miles per hour. Major storms are rated Category Three or stronger, with winds in excess of 112 mph.

Heavy rainfall is expected over the Lake Wales Ridge area and west central Florida in particular, but a dry summer has left area lakes with excess capacity, so the risk of serious flooding is quite low.

A dip in the jet stream is still forecast to push Idalia to the east, but that turn is not expected until Wednesday morning, causing it to reach the coast north of Cedar Key. Three times in the last 19 years similar forecast tracks led to storms that shirted their tracks to the east ahead of forecast, causing direct strikes on the Lake Wales area.

Residents are encouraged to complete their preparations for the storm, enacting Hurricane plans. Maintaining supplies of water and canned or dried foods and emergency or solar lighting can provide essential comforts. Filling empty plastic containers to 90 percent full and placing them in empty space in freezers will help sustain frozen foods for longer periods of time in the event of power outages.

Those needing sandbags to guard against possible home flooding can pick them up at Polk Road Maintenance units in Frostproof at 350 County Road 630A, phone (863) 635-7879, or in Dundee at 805 Dr. Martin Luther King St. SW, (863) 421-3367.

Lake Wales will bring fresh updates at least every six hours as we continue to track developments. We use a variety of modelas and software to track conditions in the tropics and bring readers our locally-focused analysis of potential threats. The potential development of this system was predicted by our monitored models two weeks ago, as reported in our story of August 14.

Readers are again reminded to update their Hurricane plans.


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