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Tropical storm heads for Florida

The slow start for the Atlantic Coast hurricane season ended with a bang this weekend with three named storms within 24 hours

BALTIMORE | August 16, 2009


"What defines if a hurricane season is active or quiet is not the number or storms, but whether or not you got hit."

—Steve Letro, National Weather Service


Surprising many Florida Panhandle residents, Tropical Storm Claudette was named early Sunday afternoon and was approaching the coast near Panama City Sunday night.

By 11 PM (EDT), a tropical storm warning was posted from the Alabama/Florida border eastward to the Aucilla River in FL. Forecasters said the storm, which was packing winds of approximately 50 MPH, was expected to cross the coast early Monday and move into southern Alabama.

Forecasters said the storm is expected to cause flash flooding as it drops accumulations of three to six inches of rain, with some areas seeing as much as 10-inches.

The much-publicized slow start to the Atlantic Coast hurricane season came to an abrupt end this weekend when Claudette's formation Sunday was preceded on Saturday by Tropical Storms Ana and Bill. Ana, downgraded to a tropical depression on Sunday is expected to become a remnant low by Monday night and track into the Gulf of Mexico by the end of the week, bringing more rain to the same region impacted by Claudette.

Tropical Storm Bill is currently predicted to reach hurricane strength Monday. Some of the projections suggest Bill could become a significant hurricane reaching at least Category 2 status later in the week. Long-term models suggest Bill will eventually curve north, threatening Bermuda but missing the U.S. coast.

Phil Klotzbach and William Gray, of Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project, said earlier this month they expect 10 tropical storms and predict at least four will become hurricanes.

Chief Long-Range and Hurricane Forecaster Joe Bastardi of the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center said "Anywhere along the United States coast is susceptible to an impact, but the Texas coast early in the season and East Coast from Carolinas northward during the heart of the season are areas that have us worried."

Bastardi points to several factors lowering the overall number of storms: a developing El Niņo in the Pacific Ocean could have a suppressing effect on the Atlantic activity, strong easterly trade winds across northern Africa will introduce dry air into the Atlantic inhibiting hurricane formation, and cooler water temperatures in the tropics tends to reduce hurricane activity and intensity.

But notes Steve Letro, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, FL, “What defines if a hurricane season is active or quiet is not the number or storms, but whether or not you got hit.“

Zachary Hoffman contributed to this story.


Related Topics:

Atlantic storm morphs into Javier

Florida prepares for TS Colin

More hurricanes predicted in '16


More links on Tropical Storms

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