As Hurricane Idalia made landfall Wednesday along the coast of Florida's Big Bend near Keaton Beach, the Treasure Coast region experienced only gusty winds and passing showers.
A wind advisory for the tri-county area was in effect until 7 p.m. Wednesday, with gusts reaching 40 mph as the powerful category 3 storm pushed into Georgia by early afternoon, according to Jessie Smith, meteorologist with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Melbourne.
“The turning point for everything is around sunset time,” Smith said Wednesday. “We are expected to start to see conditions improve as Idalia moves up the coast into Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina.”
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The Treasure Coast was never under a tornado watch.
A small craft advisory remains in effect unit 6 a.m. Thursday between the Sebastian and Jupiter inlets.
A high rip current risk also is expected through Thursday morning for Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties. That means dangerous rip currents and rough surf is expected that can sweep even the best swimmers away from shore into deeper waters.
Looking to the holiday weekend, Smith said there’s about a 30% chance of rain Thursday through Labor Day Monday, with breezy conditions and highs in the lower 90s.
“We sort of return to our normally scheduled summertime pattern after Idalia moves through,” she said.
Idalia is forecast to be a tropical storm while moving near the coasts of northeastern South Carolina and North Carolina late Wednesday and on Thursday. The system is then expected to move east-southeastward over the western Atlantic on Friday.
Local emergency responders ready to assist
Members of the Martin County Sheriff's Office Rapid Response Team will travel Thursday to Levy County for up to a week to assist with security and search-and-rescue efforts, Chief Deputy John Budensiek said.
The team will carry their own food, tents and gear to avoid burdening local authorities and resources, he said.
"That way we are not a drain on the agencies that we're going to help," Budensiek said. "All we have to do is say, go here, patrol here or go clear this area. They don't have to worry about babysitting us."
The response team consists of 12 people from different parts of the Sheriff's Office. If more help is needed after their seven-day assignment, Budensiek said another team will deploy to relieve the first group .
On Tuesday, the St. Lucie County Fire District sent two paramedics and a rescue vehicle to Orange County to assist in areas impacted by the storm, according to spokeswoman Brenda Smith.
She said it's unclear when they will return.
Erick Gill, spokesperson for St. Lucie County, said Wednesday there had been no local impacts seen from Hurricane Idalia.
“We are monitoring and anticipate that we will see some beach erosion as the storm makes its way across the state and into the Atlantic, as well as impacts from (Hurricane) Franklin,” Gill said. “Even though that hurricane is far enough offshore, it is still churning up the Atlantic and we expect to see some escarpment and rip currents along our coastline throughout the weekend.”
Gill said that in 2022 after Hurricane Ian hit the state’s west coast, St. Lucie County sent some traffic signals and surplus inventory to some counties on the west coast to help.
He also said Rangel Guerrerro, St. Lucie County's director of public safety, went to Seminole County to provide relief.
“That request hasn't come in yet to our area, but it may be something we would look to do as long as we don't have anything threatening us," Gill said, noting the county looks for opportunities to help others in neighboring areas.
Indian River County school and government buildings remained open Wednesday as officials monitored the weather, Department of Emergency Services coordinator Ryan Lloyd said.
County law enforcement officers might be sent to disaster areas or regions hardest hit by the storm. As chair of a regional Florida Sheriff’s storm response task force, Sheriff Eric Flowers oversees talks among local agencies planning to send personnel to storm zones.
“Indian River, Brevard, Volusia and Seminole counties in our region have self-sustaining teams ready to deploy as soon as the storm passes and resources are requested from impacted areas,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Jaworski. “If requested, we usually send a team of 10 rotating personnel each week.”
If needed, the agency can also provide boats, all-terrain vehicles and drones to help in any search and rescue efforts, he said.
The National Hurricane Center, meanwhile, is watching a disturbance near the Cabo Verde Islands in the eastern Atlantic. A broad band area of low pressure associated with a tropical wave is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms that has a 60% chance for formation over the next week.
A tropical depression is likely to form later this week, which is likely to move west-northwest and then turn northwestward across the eastern tropical Atlantic, according to the hurricane center.
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Corey Arwood is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Corey on X @coreyarwood, or reach him by phone at 772-978-2246.