Tropical system dumps flooding rain on Florida

The tropical system dumping rain over Florida is still expected to become Tropical Storm Alex, but not until its disorganized center has passed over the state later Saturday. In the meantime, half of Florida remains under a Tropical Storm Warning, and squalls near 50 mph have been reported in some places.

As of the 5 am advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the center of what is being referred to as Potential Tropical Cyclone One was located 100 miles southwest of Fort Myers, and the system was picking up its pace moving northwest at 18 mph with sustained winds of 40 mph and higher gusts.

“On the forecast track, the disturbance is expected to move across southern or central Florida today, over the southwestern Atlantic north of the Bahamas tonight, and near or to the north of Bermuda on Monday,” said NHC Senior Hurricane Specialists Robbie Berg.

Tropical-storm-force winds extends out 275 miles from its center with a weather station at Alligator Reef Light south of Islamorada reporting a sustained wind of 35 mph and a gust of 45 mph, and Carysfort Reef Light east of Key Largo reporting a gust of 48 mph within the last few hours, the NHC stated.

Overnight, its organization returned further, though, as it sped up.

“In other words, the system has gone the wrong way in becoming a tropical cyclone,” Berg said. “The global models suggest that the center may jump or re-form near the east-central coast of Florida this afternoon or this evening and then develop and maintain a more familiar tropical cyclone-like structure.”

It’s expected to turn toward the east-northeast while picking up more forward speed on Sunday as it moves into the Atlantic, and then turn toward the east Monday night.

Heavy rains continue to belt South Florida and portions of western Cuba, the NHC said, and Central Florida is expected to receive bands of heavy rain on Saturday. Less than 10,000 people in Florida without power, mostly from Florida Power & Light in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, according to poweroutage.us.

Some parts of South Florida could see isolated maximums of 15 inches with flash and urban flooding warnings in place.

A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect running on the Gulf Coast from the middle of Longboat Key on the Sarasota-Manatee County border south, including all of the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, and then back up Florida’s east coast to the Brevard-Volusia County line as well as Lake Okeechobee. Also parts of Cuba and Bahamas are under a warning with tropical-storm-force conditions expected within 36 hours.

Osceola, Brevard and Polk counties remain under an inland Tropical Storm Warning and a flood watch as of noon Friday, according to the National Weather Service, saying those southern Central Florida counties could expect up to 3-5 inches with some areas with up to 8 inches or rain. South Florida and the Treasure Coast, including Indian River County, St. Lucie County and Martin County, can expect heavy flooding threats with up to 12 inches of rain.

Officials with Central Florida power companies including Duke Energy, Orlando Utilities Commission and Kissimmee Utility Authority, said they’re prepared to deal quickly with any power outages.

June 1 marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30. Forecasters expect another above-average year for tropical system production. Last year saw 21 named storms, and 2020 had a record-breaking 30 named systems.

Orlando Sentinel staff writers Amanda Rabines, Joe Mario Pedersen and Roger Simmons contributed to this report.

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