Tropical storm Debby drenches Alabama, Florida and could reach hurricane strength

Coastal Alabama and parts of Florida, including the Panhandle, are under tropical storm warnings as slow-moving, unpredictable Tropical Storm Debby doused Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday. The storm has caused at least one death in Florida. The death was blamed on a tornado spawned by the storm.

As of Monday morning, Debby was located about 90 miles from the southern tip of the Florida panhandle, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm produced sustained winds of 50 mph, and tropical storm-force winds — those 39 mph or stronger —extended 200 mi. out from its center.
Debby is expected to dump a total of 10 to 15 inches of rain over the eastern Florida Panhandle and northern Florida, with isolated amounts of up to 25 inches, the hurricane center said.

High winds forced the closure of an interstate bridge that spans Tampa Bay and links St. Petersburg with areas to the southeast on Sunday.

“Given the recent heavy rainfall and wet soil conditions, these additional amounts will exacerbate the flash flood threat across portions of northern Florida and southern Alabama,” the weather agency told CNN.

While storm tracks are difficult to discern days in advance, a forecast map predicted that the storm would meander north as the week unfolds, according to the Associated Press, and could reach hurricane strength.

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