Surprise Tropical Storm Emily hits Florida’s west coast; heavy rain from Tampa to Naples
Seemingly out of nowhere, Tropical Storm Emily emerged in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and will dump heavy rain over Florida through Tuesday.Seemingly out of nowhere, Tropical Storm Emily emerged in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and will dump heavy rain over Florida through Tuesday.
The season’s fifth named storm organized rapidly off Florida’s west coast early Monday and made landfall just north of Sarasota around 10:30 a.m. Eastern time. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. At 10:40 a.m., Sarasota reported sustained winds of 39 mph, with gusts to 49 mph, and heavy rain.
The strip of coast from just north of Tampa to just south of Fort Myers is under a tropical storm warning Monday.
West central Florida is in position to receive the storm’s heaviest rainfall — especially areas just south of Tampa from St. Petersburg to Sarasota. Rainfall totals of two to four inches are likely, with isolated totals to eight inches possible. A flood watch extends from near Tampa to Naples.
“Reports from amateur radio operators indicate that street and road flooding has already been occurring in Manatee and Sarasota Counties near the Myakka River,” the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. advisory said.
The wind will not be a big problem and the storm surge, the rise in ocean water associated with landfalling storms, should be minor — mainly in areas just south of landfall. In some of the storm’s spiral bands pivoting onshore, a brief tornado could spin up.
The storm, which has been of interest since Saturday morning, gained tropical cyclone characteristics Monday morning after drifting across the warm waters of the north-central Gulf of Mexico.Thanks to the National Hurricane Center’s new ability to issue forecast packages for “potential tropical cyclones,” a tropical storm watch could have been issued for these areas as early as Saturday morning and a warning Saturday evening. But since this system was not expected to acquire tropical characteristics, the watch and warning were only issued once it had already developed into a tropical cyclone — just hours before landfall.
This is the seventh time the Atlantic Ocean basin has featured a storm named Emily. The most notable Emily occurred in 2005, which became a Category 5 hurricane July 17, 2005, southwest of Jamaica.
Emily is the fifth named storm of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, coming exactly one month earlier than average. Although the season is cruising through the name list, no storm has lasted more than two days, so the metric known as accumulated cyclone energy or ACE is at just 46 percent of average for this date. There has been no hurricane, but the average date for first hurricane formation is Aug. 15.
Source: The Washington Post