Tallahassee area updates: City to ‘substantially complete’ power restoration by

Hurricane Idalia, the first major hurricane to hit Apalachee Bay in recorded history, made landfall this morning along the Big Bend coast.

Idalia whipped up into a Category 4 monster Wednesday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 131 mph or higher before landfall. The storm left a trail of damage and human misery in her wake.


Hurricane Idalia forecast, Florida threats | WeatherTiger

Dr. Ryan Truchelut of WeatherTiger comments on Hurricane Idalia Tuesday night and walks through surge, wind, and rain forecasts for Florida.

Ryan Truchelut, WeatherTiger

Here’s the latest:

The city of Tallahassee announced this afternoon that it expects to “substantially complete” power restoration by the end of the day on Thursday.

The city in a news release said that Hurricane Idalia knocked out power to 35% of its customers. As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, power had been restored for about 42,500 customers. About 19,431 homes or businesses remain off the grid as of 6:30 p.m.

“The city’s electric utility more than tripled its resources with support from mutual aid and will continue to work through the night to restore power,” the city said. “To help ensure the pace at which restoration is occurring, additional mutual aid crews will arrive in Tallahassee this evening.”

Some 13,500 Talquin Electric customers were in the dark as of around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the utility’s outage map. However, some 75% of its customers were in-service. Talquin Electric serves portions of Gadsden, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties.

Leon County Emergency Management is reporting that 16 structures have been reported damaged by Hurricane Idalia. In addition, 46 roads were blocked and 22 trees were reported down. Those are preliminary numbers.

“We absolutely received an impact,” said Kevin Peters, director of Emergency Management. “And we were affected by a tremendous storm, one of the most tremendous storms to affect the Apalachee Bay.”

Peters said the county was focusing removing downed trees and limbs from roadways and “getting the transportation corridors reopened.” He said damage assessment teams will begin fanning out this week in an effort to tally all the local destruction.

Hurricane Idalia knocked out power to a pump station at the T.P. Smith Water Reclamation Facility on Parkview Drive, resulting in the release of 2,500 gallons of untreated sewage wastewater. City of Tallahassee crews immediately responded and stopped the overflow in less than an hour, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The area will be cleaned and disinfected.

On Tuesday, local officials issued dire warnings to the public that Idalia could make history as the most destructive storm to ever hit Tallahassee, surpassing damage seen in Hurricanes Michael in 2018, Hermine in 2016 and Kate in 1985.

The comments were based on briefings by the National Weather Service and computer models that indicated Idalia could make landfall near St. Marks, which would have brought its core wind field over the capital city.

That could have marked the first time on record that Leon County ever saw sustained hurricane-strength winds. Instead, the county saw a peak gust of 55 mph at Apalachee Regional Park.

“A difference of 35 to 40 miles made all the difference between hurricane-force winds and significant damage in Leon County and what we’re experiencing today,” said Kelly Godsey, meteorologist with the Weather Service. “And so we were that close. Unfortunately, that made it much worse for our neighbors to the east.”

Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist with WeatherTiger, noted that the distance from Southwood in eastern Tallahassee to the western eyewall was only about 30 miles.

“That’s a sneeze in meteorological terms,” he said. “So we’re very fortunate that here in Tallahassee, the center stayed south and east of us and we didn’t get that western portion of the northwest eyewall.”

Crews have restored service to more than 21,000 customers since impacts from Idalia began Tuesday night. They continue to work clearing trees, restringing lines, replacing poles and getting power back on. There were about 32,060 customers without power on the outage map as of 11:48 a.m.

The city of Tallahassee reported that it is seeing reports of damage around town, including a downed tree that blocked Buck Lake Road but was later removed.

“Stay safe,” the city said in a tweet. “Response crews are working as swiftly as safely possible.”

The Tallahassee Fire Department confirmed that a tree fell on a gas transmission line on Lexington Drive off Meridian Road. Residents within a quarter mile radius of the line were evacuated.

First responders were able to resolve the issue shortly after, TFD told the Tallahassee Democrat.

The city of Tallahassee, which saw as many as 44,000 customers without power this morning, is reporting 513 outages as of 9:41 a.m. affecting 35,789 people. Power is out at Lincoln High School, where storm evacuees are housed at a shelter.

The city said line crews are “actively restoring service” to electric customers and that since midnight, power has been restored to 12,000 customers.

Talquin Electric is reporting power out for 24,875 customers.

As Idalia makes its way inland, emergency management officials in Leon County are advising residents to stay put.

“Now is not the time to go outside,” said Kevin Peters, director of Leon County Emergency Management. “Trees can suddenly fall. Wait until wind subsides.”

As Idalia keeps barreling through, Tallahassee and Leon County officials are still closely monitoring the storm’s path. In an update about a half hour after the hurricane made landfall at 8 a.m. in Keaton Beach, County Administrator Vincent Long said it’s still early and damage assessment is hours away.

“The conditions that we’re seeing, currently, we’ve got increasing wind and rain,” Long said.

Officials have been receiving a few calls with reports of down trees and power outages, he said. With the persisting gusts and downpour, they anticipate more calls to come through.

In an 8:30 a.m. update, no damage, accidents or roadblocks had been reported. Response crews have been patrolling all night and will stay on the streets until winds reach over 40 miles per hour sustained.

Winds are currently sustaining at 32 miles per hour, reaching 42 miles per hour during gusts, and the area is still at risk of flash floods.

The Florida Highway Patrol is working a crash on Interstate 10 in Madison County that injured a driver after a tree limb crashed through the driver’s windshield. Troopers were dispatched around 8:15 a.m., and the extent of the driver’s injuries are unknown at this time, said FHP spokesperson Patricia Jefferson-Shaw.

At least four sections of the interstate have reported limbs down throughout Jefferson and Madison counties along both eastbound and westbound lanes. There are no reported closures. Chainsaw crews that had been removing debris from the interstate have been directed to stop because of high winds.

More than 34K city of Tallahassee electric customers were without power as of 9:16 a.m., according to the city’s outage map. The outages were located across town.

The city of Tallahassee is reporting 469 power outages affecting 18,464 customers in all four quadrants of town. City line workers will begin repairs once the worst of the weather passes through.

503 people are now in shelters across Leon County. The total number of beds available is 2,279. 

“No major reports of trees down or any other damage reports for now,” the Leon County Sheriff’s Office said. “No roads impacted either. 

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey made an appearance this morning on NBC’s Today Show to discuss Hurricane Idalia prep and impacts.

“The time to evacuate has come and gone,” Dailey said. “It is time to shelter in place.”

There are no reports of storm surge flooding in Wakulla County this morning after Idalia tracked east and away from St. Marks after all.

Lt. Jeffrey Yarbrough, a WCSO spokesman, said his office has received no reports of storm surge. That’s in stark contrast to the potentially deadly 16 feet that could have come had Idalia gone further west.

“We haven’t received any calls from citizens letting us know (storm surge) is happening,” Yarborough said. “And it looks like currently, the direction that the wind is blowing, it’s actually kind of aiding us and blowing the water out as opposed to blowing it in.”

Yarborough said there were about 10 reports of downed trees, including one on a home, and several downed power lines, with about 8,000 customers without power.

He said deputies, who were last on the road around 4 a.m., will be able to safely venture out in the next hour or so.

“Our hearts go out to Taylor and Dixie counties and anybody that’s dealing with (surge),” Yarborough added.

Hurricane Idalia made landfall around 7:45 a.m. near Keaton Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

“Data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that Idalia’s maximum sustained winds were near 125 mph (205 km/h). The latest minimum pressure central pressure estimated from reconnaissance data is 949 mb (28.02 inches),” the Hurricane Center said.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office just posted the following on their Facebook: “Power is being lost all over, winds are increasing and heavy rains are arriving. Get as prepared as you can and hunker down. We will continue to update as information is available.” #Idalia

The city of Tallahassee is reporting 509 power outages across town affecting 4,935 customers, according to its outage map. Some of the biggest outages, as of 7:30 a.m., were located around West Tharpe Street and Midtown between North Monroe Street and Thomasville Road.

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office has suspended emergency operations as of 6:40 a.m. due to sustained tropical storm force winds.

Emergency personnel will not respond to calls until the weather improves, the sheriff’s office wrote in a social media post.

“We ask citizens to remain in place and hold tight until the storm passes our community,” the post reads.

Mike Crow, assistant city manager for power delivery, told the Tallahassee Democrat that the city has roughly tripled its ranks of line repair personnel through mutual aid with other states.

In a Q-and-A with the Tallahassee Democrat on Tuesday, Crow said Idalia could bring widespread outages and damage to the electric system. However, he said even if a major hurricane hits Tallahassee, most power should be restored in no more than a week.

“Our employees are world class,” Wolf said. “They want to get power back on, they’re out there working their butts off day in and day out. I don’t anticipate even in a major hurricane, anything over a week as far as restoration.”

All shelters in Leon County are still open and welcoming people, according to Leon County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Angela Green. Currently, there are approximately 470 people across seven shelters in the county, she said. Shelter capacity is about 2,200.

There are seven Leon County Schools campuses serving as emergency shelters: Chiles High School, Lincoln High School, Rickards High School, Fort Braden K-8 School and recently added, Sail High School, Godby High School and Fairview Middle School.

All are pet-friendly.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said “catastrophic” storm surge is occurring or will soon along the Big Bend. Here are details from the Weather Service’s briefing on Hurricane Idalia’s 5 a.m. NHC advisory:

  • Catastrophic storm surge is occuring or soon will occur along the Big Bend coast.
  • Widespread wind damage, potentially significant, and prolonged power outages are possible in the eastern Big Bend and into south Georgia, particularly around Valdosta and Moody AFB.
  • Idalia will be a Category 4 hurricane at landfall and could remain a major hurricane as it moves into south Georgia.
  • Extreme Wind Warnings have been issued for portions of Taylor and Dixie counties.

Tallahassee may escape worst-case scenario as Idalia slightly shifts east

In a 6 a.m. update, Leon County Emergency Management Director Kevin Peters said because the storm track has shifted more east, the impact will be less severe on the capital city and county.

“However, a storm of this magnitude, the effects will still be felt,” Peters said.

Hurricane Idalia is expected to make landfall around 8 a.m., and residents should still be careful as tropical storm winds could reach speeds anywhere from 39 to 73 miles per hour, or greater than 74 miles per hour with a hurricane, he said.

In a 5 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said Tallahassee has a 33% chance of winds of at least 39 mph, and a 4% chance of winds of at least 57 mph.

Leon County is still under a hurricane warning and will be on a flood watch through Wednesday.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee have issued an extreme wind warning and advise Taylor and Dixie County residents to find shelter now, as extreme winds of more than 115 mph are expected within the next one-to-two hours.


Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist for WeatherTiger, said Idalia should make landfall within the next few hours in Taylor County.

“Over the last few hours, Idalia has been moving at a heading of about 20-25 degrees, or east of north,” he wrote in a morning update. “On this track, and potentially factoring in a little more angling to the east, Idalia will be ashore somewhere south of Perry in central Taylor County between 8 and 9 a.m.”

Truchelut wrote that Idalia was still intensifying and could strengthen further before making landfall.

“Massive surge, wind, and rain impacts are spreading across North Florida and west-central Florida, and you should be sheltering in place in these areas into the afternoon,” Truchelut said.

Taylor and 32 other counties in Florida are under a tornado watch, according to the National Weather Service. The watch, which means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form, is in effect until 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The city of Tallahassee is reporting only 235 outages as of 5:40 p.m., according to the city’s outage map. That number may jump significantly as Idalia makes landfall within the next several hours, perhaps along the Taylor County coast.

In a 5 a.m. update, the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office warned residents of “rapidly deteriorating conditions,” and said safe travel on roads is not possible at this time.

The county is under a hurricane warning and a storm surge warning, the sheriff’s office said.

While the hurricane has moved east, Wakulla officials warned the storm could still strengthen.

“Wakulla County will still feel serious impacts from this storm, and the path is subject to change as we have seen thus far,” the post reads.

Taylor County Sheriff’s Office announced a curfew was in place for residents early Wednesday morning on social media, advising people to stay off the road.“When the storm has passed, public safety officials will assess the damages and hazards, and advise when the roads are safe to travel,” the post reads.

At 5 a.m. this morning, Hurricane Idalia was about 80 miles due south and slightly to the east of Tallahassee, which means Tallahassee may not face a worst-case scenario. If the hurricane came ashore closer to St. Marks, the peril for Tallahassee would have gone up dramatically.

Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist with WeatherTiger, told the Democrat this morning that landfall was likely in the Taylor County area.

Leon County Administrator Vince Long told county commissioners that Idalia’s track continued to drift west, exposing the county to “greater wind risks,” including hurricane-force winds.

“This cannot be overstated: Idalia is a historic and life-threatening weather event,” Long wrote in a Tuesday email. “In briefings, weather experts have called it catastrophic. It will reshape the coastline and could very well change the lives of County residents. That’s why we have been coordinating and leveraging every available resource for before, during, and after landfall.”

The city of Tallahassee on Tuesday night texted residents to say that Idalia was strengthening and that “the National Weather Service predicts it will be the strongest storm to hit Tallahassee.”

Long said that because of Idalia shifts to the west, Leon County is now expecting 4 to 8 inches of rain with isolated amounts exceeding 10 inches. The rain will cause “deadly flash floods” and river and lake levels to rise, he wrote.

“To be clear, at this time, we are watching even the smallest shifts in the track,” Long said. “A shift to the west dramatically amplifies damage, while a few miles east make all the difference.” 

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said this morning that the Big Bend coast could see up to 16 feet of storm surge, a catastrophic, life-threatening amount.

  • Wakulla/Jefferson County Line to Yankeetown: 12 to 16 feet
  • Ochlockonee River to Wakulla/Jefferson County Line: 8 to 12 feet
  • Carrabelle to Ochlockonee River: 5 to 8 feet
  • Indian Pass to Carrabelle: 3 to 5 feet (unchanged)
  • Mexico Beach to Indian Pass: 1 to 3 feet (unchanged)

Contact Jeff Burlew at or 850-599-2180.

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