Slow, Relentless Tropical Storm Debby
Some storms, like Hurricanes Charlie and Andrew, hit you like a fist and they’re gone.
But there’s another type of storm – slow, plodding and relentless. That’s Debby.
Meteorologists think Debby is weakening. But the storm doesn’t have to be strong to do lots of damage.
David Feltgen says he hears it all the time: “Oh, it’s just a tropical storm.”
But tropical storms can be just as dangerous, according to Feltgen, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
“Just because you don’t have the wind hazard from a tropical storm such as Debbie, doesn’t mean you don’t have the other three hazards.”
Those hazards are:
- Storm surge - 5 feet above high tide in some areas
- Flooding - more than two feet of rain expected in some parts of Florida
- Tornadoes - at least 20 tornadoes on Sunday
One ripped off the roof of a mobile home in central Florida, killing a woman as she clutched her three-year-old daughter in her arms.
Debby is being blamed for one other death, a South Carolina man who went swimming in the high surf off Orange Beach, Alabama.
So, it may be a tropical storm, but Feltgen says people shouldn’t ignore Debby.
“The level of preparation they should have should be the same as a hurricane,” he said.
Roofs Gone, Homes Flooded
In the Tampa Bay area, the historic beach town of Pass-a-Grille was hit the hardest. A tornado damaged 20 roofs, spreading debris among the pastel-colored apartment buildings and beach bungalows.
Tony Howe shows off his apartment -- his sliding glass door is gone, and tiny shards of glass litter the floor.
“All of a sudden I heard this very loud noise like a freight train, and I was trying to get up from my chair,” he said.
“And all my windows blew out, and the glass shattered all over my apartment and hit me, and I got lacerations on my body from the cuts” Howe said.
Gusty winds shut down the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. But water remains the biggest fear among residents here.
On Sunday, flooding forced the evacuation of Mariner's Cove trailer park -- including Pamela Andrews.
Monday afternoon, she was sitting at the entrance to the mobile home park with her eight-year-old son, a lot of wet clothes, and her cat.
“It's probably about waist deep when we were leaving yesterday. There's fish swimming around there, there's turtles, there's shoes floating around.
“My fence actually fell down, is floating around in the water somewhere,” she said.
After sitting still for two days, the eye of Tropical Storm Debby is finally headed toward the Florida coast at the clip of a fast walk...about three miles per hour.
The heavy rains are expected to continue from coastal Alabama across parts of the Florida peninsula for days.