Tropical storm warnings were issued Friday for much of the Florida peninsula, Cuba and the Bahamas as a system that hit Mexico moves into the Gulf of Mexico, killing at least two people in Cuba and bringing threats of heavy rain and winds for the weekend.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Tropical storm warnings were issued Friday for much of the Florida peninsula, Cuba and the Bahamas as a system that hit Mexico moves into the Gulf of Mexico, killing at least two in Cuba and bringing threats of heavy threats. rain and wind for the weekend.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm once known as Agatha in the Pacific Ocean will be known as Alex in the Atlantic Ocean basin once it reaches status. tropical storm.
A Friday evening advisory from the hurricane center said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph), just above the tropical storm threshold, but it remained labeled “potential tropical cyclone one.” for it had few other defining characteristics of such storms.
Around 11 p.m., forecasters said the system was about 185 miles (295 kilometers) southwest of Fort Myers, Fla., moving at about 12 mph (19 kph).
A Hurricane Center advisory said the system was expected to develop “a well-defined center and become a tropical storm” as it approaches Florida Friday night and Saturday.
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.
In Florida, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said most government services, such as bus lines and trains, plan to operate normally over the weekend. Some events have been canceled, she said, and while there is no widespread concern about the storm, it might be best to make plans indoors.
“If it’s not necessary to go out, it’s probably best to stay home,” Levine Cava said at a news conference on Friday.
The mayor added that canal levels in South Florida have been lowered to minimize flooding from heavy rains.
The storm warning affects both the Florida Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast, from just below Tampa Bay and Daytona Beach to the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas. Parts of Cuba, including the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, La Habana and Mayabeque, and the northwestern Bahamas were also under a warning with tropical storm-force conditions expected within 36 hours. .
The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on Tuesday. This is an unusually early start to storm season, but not unprecedented for Florida.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that rainfall of up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) is possible in southern Florida, including the Florida Keys. The storm is not expected to produce high winds or major storm surge. But local flooding is likely and winds could be quite strong.
“Heavy rains will begin to affect South Florida and the Keys on Friday and will continue through Saturday,” the Hurricane Center said in an online post. Storm surges and flooding are also expected, the severity of which depends on the timing of the tides.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the forecast was somewhat unusual as heavy rain was expected in southwest Florida on Friday and windy but drier conditions on Saturday. “The rain actually beats the wind” instead of the two coming together, he said.
“No one is getting into emergency position” at this time, DeSantis said, but authorities would be watching for the storm to strengthen. “We have to be ready no matter what.”
Some cities and counties in coastal and low-lying areas of Florida, including Pembroke Pines and Miami-Dade County, were offering residents sandbags to shore up their homes Friday morning.
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.
Anderson reported from St. Petersburg, Florida.
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