The tropical system dumping rain on Florida is still expected to become Tropical Storm Alex, but not before its disorganized center passes over the state later Saturday. In the meantime, half of Florida remains under a tropical storm warning and squalls above 80 km/h have been reported in some places.
As of the 8 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the center of so-called Potential Tropical Cyclone 1 was located 45 miles south-southwest of Fort Myers, and the system continued its pace. frantic moving northwest at 18 mph with a steady pace. 40 mph winds and higher gusts.
“On the forecast track, the disturbance is expected to move into southern or central Florida today, across the southwest Atlantic north of the Bahamas this evening, and near or north of Bermuda on Monday.” , said Robbie Berg, senior hurricane specialist at the NHC.
Tropical storm-force winds extend 275 miles from its center with a weather station at Government Cut near Miami reporting sustained winds of 40 mph and a wind gust of 53 mph Saturday morning.
From one day to the next, its organization became even more devolved, as it accelerated.
“In other words, the system got off track by becoming a tropical cyclone,” Berg said. “Global models suggest the center could break out or re-form near the east-central Florida coast this afternoon or evening, then develop and sustain a more familiar tropical cyclone-like structure.”
It is expected to turn east-northeast while accelerating on Sunday as it moves into the Atlantic, then turn east Monday evening.
Heavy rain continues to belt southern Florida and parts of western Cuba, the NHC said, but central Florida is expected to receive fewer bands of heavy rain on Saturday. Parts of South Florida have already seen nearly a foot of water, with potential for isolated highs of 15 inches that have triggered flash and urban flood warnings in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm counties Beach, Martin, St. Lucia and Indian River.
Some streets in downtown Miami were flooded overnight, with city officials closing the streets after emergency responders handled multiple calls from cars stuck in the water.
“Please stay off the road and do not drive through the flooding,” City of Miami Fire-Rescue officials warned. “We continue to urge you not to drive or walk in standing water. Be safe and allow us to assess the situation.
Fewer than 10,000 people in Florida are without power as of 8 a.m., mostly from Florida Power & Light in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to poweroutage.us. Central Florida power company officials, including Duke Energy, Orlando Utilities Commission and Kissimmee Utility Authority, said they were prepared to respond quickly to any power outages.
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Gulf Coast from Bonita Beach south, including all of the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, then up the east coast of Florida to the Brevard-Volusia county line as well as Lake Okeechobee. Warnings also in place for parts of Cuba and the Bahamas.
In Cuba, heavy downpours caused by the system caused landslides and accidents that left two people dead in the capital, Havana, state media reported. A person was also missing in Pinar del Río province after falling into a rain-swollen river. The country’s civil defense organization said the main damage so far was to homes and the electrical system. The national electricity company said 50,000 customers were without power.
The system has become more disorganized overnight, and while Osceola, Brevard and Polk counties remain under a tropical storm warning inland, winds of no more than 25 mph are expected, said the meteorologist Mallory Nicholls of Spectrum News 13.
“Wind shear has been our friend for the past few days, it’s kept this system from getting organized,” she said. “The worst weather is going to be for the next few hours, but even that’s not going to be too bad.”
The region will still see light to moderate rain with some lightning as the center of the system still approaches the west coast of Florida near Fort Myers on Saturday morning, although the majority of its heavier rain bands have already cleared. directed inland. Rain is expected to persist into the evening.
June 1 marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which will continue until November 30. Forecasters are expecting another above-average year for production from the tropical system. Last year saw 21 named storms, and 2020 had a record 30 named systems.
As a Pacific storm, Hurricane Agatha brought flooding and mudslides that killed at least 11 people and left 20 missing in Mexico, officials said. It caused rivers to overflow and swept people into homes, while other victims were buried under mud and rocks.
Agatha made history as the strongest hurricane on record in May during the Eastern Pacific hurricane season since 1949. Climatologists say tropical systems will become more powerful and destructive due to global warming.
Orlando Sentinel staff writers Amanda Rabines, Joe Mario Pedersen and Roger Simmons and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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