A Florida journalist was caught in a blackout during a live broadcast report on Idalia’s impacts Wednesday — putting the dangerous storm’s strong winds on full display for viewers.
Forrest Saunders, the Florida State Capitol Reporter for E.W. Scripps, was standing outside delivering an update on the storm from Chiefland, a city about 25 miles from the ocean, when the street lights surrounding him suddenly started to flicker before turning off completely.
“We just lost power! You just saw the power go out,” Saunders can be heard saying in a video of the broadcast shared to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Idalia’s damaging winds appeared to be in full effect Wednesday morning as Saunder’s muffled report went live shortly before the storm made landfall at 7:45 a.m. near Keaton Beach in Taylor County.
“If you can’t see me, I apologize, but that just happened,” the sopping-wet reporter adds.
The video shows Saunder’s dark outline standing in what appears to be a parking lot next to a rain-soaked road. Rain can be heard rapidly pounding on the pavement, which is only being lit by a traffic light on the road behind the reporter.
“It looks like we still have traffic lights, but we definitely lost power in this block of Chiefland and that is because the wind is so intense,” Saunders said before sending the broadcast back to his colleauges in-studio.
Damaging winds had already left over 161,000 Floridians without power Wednesday morning as Idalia closed in on the state, PowerOutage.us shows.
The most impacted areas include Taylor and Dixie Counties, which includes Horseshoe Beach, where a terrifying beach camera video captured waves surging the shore just before the power cut out.
Idalia, which briefly rose to a Category 4 storm before downgrading Wednesday morning, is still pounding the Sunshine State with intense rain and harsh 125 mph winds, with gusts being recorded at even greater speeds.
What meteorologists have called Idalia’s greatest threat — storm surges — could occur for about 200 miles of Florida’s west coast, including the state’s Big Bend area, a sparsely-populated area where the peninsula merges into the Panhandle, which was expecting anywhere from 12 to 16 feet of storm surge.
The looming threat of storm surge, as well as wind damage, has officials with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee warning that some places “may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months.”
The aggressive storm has already brought tremendous waves to streets, threatening to submerge homes and even palm trees.
In the neighborhood of Cedar Key, about 88 miles southwest of Keaton Beach, where the hurricane made landfall, meteorologists expect between 8 to 9 feet of storm surge. The area already broke the threshold for major flooding just a few minutes after 8 a.m., NOAA’s Ocean Service announced.
President Joe Biden is expected to speak about the hurricane’s impact from the White House Wednesday afternoon.
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