RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As of 11 p.m. Monday, Tropical Storm Idalia is moving into the southern Gulf of Mexico and has sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, just shy of hurricane strength.

Idalia is moving to the north at 8 miles per hour and will emerge into the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday before continuing on toward the Gulf coast of Florida.

Because of the very warm ocean water ahead of Idalia, it is forecast to strengthen into a Category 3 with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour before making landfall, possibly near the Big Bend of Florida. (Remember that a hurricane is considered a “major” hurricane when it reaches a Category 3, 4 or 5) Significant and potentially catastrophic impacts are expected along portions of the Gulf Coast of Florida due to storm surge, heavy rain, and strong winds.

Luckily for us in North Carolina, Idalia will weaken and curve more to the east, leaving the tropical storm force winds likely south and east of the Triangle. However, heavy rains and flooding is possible, especially farther to the south. 1-4″ of rain is possible across Central North Carolina, with up to 5″ or more along the coast.

Meanwhile, the first major hurricane of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season has developed off the east coast. As of 11 p.m. Monday, Hurricane Franklin is a dangerous category 4 hurricane with winds sustained at 150 mph while moving north at 9 miles per hour.

North Carolina’s impacts include rough seas and strong rip currents as it moves north several hundred miles offshore. The latest forecast track has Franklin getting even stronger, with winds near 150 miles per hour Tuesday afternoon. Franklin could move nearing Bermuda Tuesday night & Wednesday, then continuing away from the U.S. through the end of the week.

Stay tuned for additional updates.