A potential tropical storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico has prompted Governor Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency for much of Florida on Saturday.
The state of emergency encompasses 33 counties along Florida's Gulf Coast (Florida has a total of 67 counties), ranging from Fort Myers in the southwest to Panama City in the Panhandle.
This preemptive measure allows the state's emergency management department to get ready, and the governor has urged Gulf Coast residents to do the same.
"I signed an Executive Order issuing a state of emergency out of an abundance of caution to ensure that the Florida Division of Emergency Management can begin staging resources and Floridians have plenty of time to prepare their families for a storm next week," DeSantis said. "I encourage Floridians to have a plan in place and ensure that their hurricane supply kit is stocked."
The National Hurricane Center released a forecast on Saturday afternoon indicating that the storm is projected to bring substantial rainfall to the Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba. Subsequently, winds are anticipated to guide it towards Florida, with a 70% likelihood of the system becoming a tropical storm by Monday and a 90% overall chance. If it develops, it will be named Tropical Storm Idalia.
There is no clear indication yet of the storm's precise path or if it could reach hurricane strength.