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Tropical Storm Likely To Hit Florida This Week

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Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Hurricane Hunters flew into Tropical Depression Nine on Monday afternoon and did not find tropical storm force winds. However, Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Meteorologist Jeff HufFman says the system is still expected to intensify.

“Once it becomes a tropical storm starting Wednesday it's likely to turn northeast and accelerate toward North Central Florida and it could be a strong tropical storm when it approaches the big bend or Nature Coast region by Thursday,” Huffman said. 

Huffman also said not much changed Monday with regards to the storm’s forecast.

“As the system continues moving west farther away from Cuba and over the very warm waters of the south central Gulf wind shear is expected to diminish and conditions are likely to become more favorable for intensification on Tuesday into a tropical storm,” he said.  

The heaviest rain and other possible hazards from this storm are expected to arrive Wednesday or Thursday.

The tropical depression formed late Sunday in the Florida Straits.

The official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center takes the storm over north Florida by Thursday.

The big question, though, is how strong could it be, said Huffman.

Regardless of what happens with the storm, the rainfall will be adding up over the coming days.

The storm will bring heavy rain to the Tampa Bay area this week with 3 to 5 inches falling in most areas. The highest amounts are expected closer to the coast. Local amounts up to 8 inches will be possible near and east of where the storm tracks.

The depression's maximum sustained winds early Monday were near 35 mph with some strengthening expected during the next two days. Forecasters say it could become a tropical storm overnight.

An isolated tornado or waterspout will be possible in stronger bands of thunderstorms near and to the southeast of where the storm tracks.

A moderate to high risk of rip currents will exist over the next five days. Swimmers and beach-goers are urged to use extreme caution, and only enter the water where there is a lifeguard on duty.

While confidence is reasonably high that Depression Nine will turn north and eventually northeast across Florida, the National Hurricane Center issued an important statement in their first advisory, saying the confidence in the intensity forecast is even lower than usual for this system.

For several days, forecast models have had a difficult time staying consistent in their rendering of this system. Some data suggests it will struggle to form or dissipate entirely, whereas other information shows a much grimmer outcome that a hurricane might hit the state.

The current forecast from the National Hurricane Center is noted as “quite conservative” by their lead forecasters.

All Floridians are strongly encouraged to stay informed of future updates on the progression of Tropical Depression Nine.

SANDBAGS

In advance of the storm brewing in the Gulf,  number of local communities are making sandbags available to their residents. Proof of residency is required.

Pinellas

Pinellas County is making materials available for people to put together their own sandbags at three locations today (MONDAY). Sandbags will be limited to 20 per person.

  • John Chesnut Sr. Park, 2200 East Lake Road in Palm Harbor
  • Lealman Community Park, 3890 55th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg
  • Taylor Park, 1100 Eighth Ave. S.W. in Largo

St. Petersburg will have the materials for people to put together up to 10 bags per resident at two locations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today (MONDAY).

  • Northeast Park, 875 62nd Avenue NE.
  •  Frank W. Pierce Recreation Center at Bartlett Park, 22nd Avenue S. between Sixth and Seventh Streets

Pinellas Park residents can get up to 10 sandbags at the City Adamek Building at 7780 60th St. N. from 9:00 am to 4:00 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. 
Tarpon Springs residents can make their own sandbags at three locations:

  • Dorsett Park, 500 E. Harrison Street
  • Splash Park, 508 E. Live Oak Street
  • Roosevelt Boulevard Roundabout at Dodecanese Avenue

Pasco

Pasco County will have sand and bags available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. until further notice at the West Pasco Government Center at 7356 State St. in New Port Richey. People are encouraged to bring their own shovels.

The cities of New Port Richey and Dade City are also offering self-service sandbag operations from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 6240 Pine Hill Road in New Port Richey and 38042 Pasco Avenue in Dade City.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

A new version of the mobile app, Florida Storms, now includes evacuation zone information and information from nearby emergency managers. Look for it in the iOS Store of Google Play today.