During the briefing in Tallahassee, the Florida governor warned residents not to “mess with this storm” which briefly strengthened into a Category 4 before making landfall as a dangerous Category 3 hurricane.
In the briefing, Mr DeSantis spoke of the “life-threatening” storm surge expected to pummel parts of the Sunshine State while revealing that thousands of homes had already been hit by power outages.
“If you’re in a place close to the coast and you see that surge that’s going to be legitimate surge, it’s going to be a big, big deal and it’s going to be very, very dangerous,” he said.
At that moment, the governor’s briefing was disrupted by a power outage of its own, with the room suddenly plunged into darkness.
“And there we go with our power here,” he said.
A few seconds later, a generator kicked in and the lights came back on.
“We’re back,” Mr DeSantis said.
Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Florida’s Big Bend region at around 7.45am ET on Wednesday.
The National Hurricane Center said that the “extremely dangerous Category 3” hurricane had hit the coast, bringing with it damaging winds of up to 125 mph and a catastrophic storm surge.
Idalia is now moving inland from Florida’s Big Bend region, the National Hurricane Center said.
Mr DeSantis warned Floridians that the storm surge would be “life-threatening” as he urged residents to take the storm seriously and hunker down inside.
“The storm surge up to 16 feet in some areas of the Big Bend region – this storm is life-threatening,” said Mr DeSantis.
“So do not go outside in the storm... if it’s calm where you are it may be because you are in the eye of the storm.”
He warned: “Don’t mess with this storm. Don’t do anything that will put yourself in jeopardy.”
Thousands of Florida residents are currently in warning zones – either having been urged to evacuate in advance of the storm approaching or told to hunker down in homes until further notice.
Power outages were already being reported on Tuesday evening before the storm hit with around 50,000 homes without power early on Wednesday morning.
After Idalia made landfall, around 215,000 homes were without power, according to a 9am ET update on Poweroutage.us.
Ahead of the storm making landfall, evacuation notices had been issued in at least 21 counties in western and central Florida while 46 counties were placed under a state of emergency.
Officials have reassured Floridians that search and rescue operations are poised and ready to go as soon as the storm passes but – during the storm – residents have been urged to look after their families and hunker down inside.
Even after the storm passes, Mr DeSantis warned people not to drive through flooded streets, to assume that all downed power lines could be live and be careful when using generators – for risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Meanwhile, a terrifying forecast model has shown that Idalia could actually hit the state of Florida twice over the coming week.
Global Forecasting System, a federal hurricane projection model, forecasted that Idalia would first make landfall on Florida’s Big Bend region on Wednesday morning.
It predicts the storm will then travel up through north Florida and into Georgia and South Carolina, before heading back out into the Atlantic.
However, after that, the storm is forecast to turn southwest and head back toward Florida’s Atlantic coast to make landfall in the state for a second time on Monday.
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