Tropical storm Debby linked to 2 deaths

Watches and warnings issued for Fla. Gulf coast

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. | June 25, 2012

Tropical storm Debby, stalled over the northeast Gulf of Mexico, was linked to the deaths of a man swimming and a woman in a windstorm, authorities say.

Debby, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, was about 75 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Fla., and moving northeast at 3 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 11 a.m. EDT advisory.

A tropical storm warning from the Florida-Alabama border to Destin was discontinued but one remained in effect for the Florida Gulf Coast from Destin to Englewood and a storm watch from the Suwanee River to Englewood was changed to a storm warning.

The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala., reported authorities said a South Carolina man who was swimming in Orange Beach was presumed to have drowned about 1:45 p.m. Sunday in the heavy surf. The search for the unidentified man was suspended about 7:45 p.m.

The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., reported the Highland County Sheriff's Office attributed the death of a woman in Venus to severe weather spawned by the off-shore tropical storm. Four homes in the area were destroyed and several others were damaged. The newspaper said it had not been confirmed whether a tornado had touched down.

Debby's strength wasn't expected to change much during the next few days but it could spawn a few tornadoes across portions of the Florida panhandle, peninsula and southern Georgia, the NHC said.

The combination of a storm surge and the tide will cause some flooding in normally dry areas near the coasts of Florida and Alabama, the hurricane center said.

Debby is expected to produce 10- to 20 inches of rain over northern and central Florida, with as much as 25 inches possible in isolated areas, forecaster said.

Five to 15 inches of rain could fall over coastal Southeastern Georgia and extreme southeastern South Carolina, the NHC said.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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