The storm reached Keaton Beach, Florida at 7:45 a.m. ET with gusts of 125 mph and sending feet of storm surge into coastal communities.
Damaging winds, flooding rains and life-threatening storm surges are likely to continue along Florida's Big Bend area into the midday hours. After slamming Florida, the storm will race northeast and bring rain, wind, and some storm surge to Georgia and the Carolinas late Wednesday into Thursday.
To provide historical context, there have been no major hurricanes tracked into Apalachee Bay since records have been kept in 1851, according to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.
Several Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings remain in the Southeast as Idalia continues its trek toward the Atlantic.
Where is Hurricane Idalia heading next?
Idalia is expected to continue to move at a faster north motion later on Wednesday as it races into southeastern Georgia, then curves back along the South Carolina and North Carolina beaches into Thursday before reaching the Atlantic.
Life-threatening winds and heavy rains will come in ahead of the storm.
Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin on Wednesday in the warning area along the east coast of Florida and South Carolina. Tropical storm conditions are also possible along the southeast U.S. coast within the southern portions of the watch area by early Wednesday.
When will the tornado risk increase for Florida and the Southeast?
When will heavy rains arrive?
Portions of the west coast of Florida, the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and the eastern Carolinas are expected to see 4-8 inches into Thursday. Isolated higher totals of 12 inches are possible, primarily near landfall in northern Florida.
Areas of flash and urban flooding, some of which may be locally significant, are expected across portions of the west coast of Florida, the Florida Panhandle, and southern Georgia into Wednesday, spreading into portions of the eastern Carolinas Wednesday into Thursday.