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Emergency management officials are urging residents to closely monitor Hurricane Ida as it heads into the Gulf of Mexico and makes its way toward the Florida Panhandle.
“All Floridians should take this storm seriously and not be caught off-guard over the next few days,” said Ruben D. Almaguer, interim director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Residents across Florida are urged follow the progress of Ida and be prepared to implement their family disaster plans and heed local advisories.
Ida is expected to effect most of Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“Whether Ida maintains a storm or loses tropical characteristics, the Florida Gulf Coast region has the potential to see several inches of rain, strong winds, isolated tornadoes and dangerous surf and coastal flooding beginning Monday evening and continuing into Wednesday,” said Mike Stone, Florida’s Emergency Management Public Information Officer.
Levy County Coordinator Fred Moody said Ida's main effects look to be wind and rain. He said the county is not expected to experience a storm surge. Moody said he has been in touch with Emergency Management Director Mark Johnson since Friday.
Johnson has also bee in touch with Levy County School Superintendent Bob Hastings since Friday, Moody said.
Moody said the county is prepared for the storm.
Road Department Administrative Superintendent Bruce Greenlee has a debris plan in place. Greenlee said he and his crews are checking to make sure theyhave enough fuel on hand and equipment is ready to handle any situation that could arise from the effects of wind and water.
Forecasters expect the rip current risk to be moderate to high along both Atlantic and Gulf Coasts through Wednesday.
“The Florida Big Bend region could see tropical storm force winds Tuesday through Wed morning,” Stone said. “Rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches may be experienced across the region… Isolated tornadoes are possible with any strong rain bands.”
As of 6 p.m. Sunday, Hurricane Ida was located about 445 miles south-southeast of the mouth of Mississippi River, and was moving north-northwest at approximately 12 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Maximum sustained winds for the category two hurricane are near 105 miles per hour with higher gusts. Ida is expected to gradually weaken on Monday.
Forecasters expect to see Ida increase in forward speed as well as gradually turn toward the north as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico Sunday night and Monday. Ida is expected to be near the northern gulf coast Monday night or Early Tuesday.
Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the northern gulf coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Mexico Beach, Fla, meaning that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area in the next 36 hours.
Cedar Key and all of Levy County remains in the three-day potential track area, however no other watches or warnings for the Gulf Coast have been issued as of Sunday evening.
The Levy County Emergency Management website posts the latest information pertinent to Levy County at www.levydisaster.com. Should Ida come close to Levy County, there will also be shelter and evacuation information posted at the site.
The Coast Guard is urging boaters to use caution and closely monitor coastal and offshore weather conditions before going out on the water.
Due to high winds and rough seas predicted over the coming days, a small-craft advisory is expected to remain in effect for much of West Florida throughout the week, according to a Coast Guard press release.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management advises Florida Gulf Coast residents and visitors to closely follow Hurricane Ida and be prepared to implement their disaster plans and heed any evacuation orders.
Residents and visitors should heed the advice of local officials in regards to evacuations and protective actions if conditions warrant, Stone said. Those in low lying areas and mobile homes are urged to heed evacuation orders from local officials.
“Please remember to plan for your pets and check on your neighbors and the elderly,” he said. “Mariners need to make preparations to secure their vessels and remain in safe harbor as directed.”
Keep a close watch on the changing status of Ida by clicking the Tropical Update button at the top this webpage and checking the Chiefland Citizen website for updates.