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Tropical Storm Fay drenching Florida

Tropical Storm Fay drenching Florida
This August 18, 2008 NOAA satelite photo shows tropical storm Fay as it heads for Florida. This system is moving toward the north-northwest near 12 MPH and has maximum sustained winds near 60 MPH. The storm is expected to make landfall later Monday nigh or early Tuesday morning. (UPI Photo/NOAA) | License Photo

MIAMI, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Tropical Storm Fay drenched central South Florida with heavy rain and spawned a tornado Tuesday amid fears it could become a hurricane later this week.

A hurricane watch was in effect for the Florida east coast north of Flagler Beach to Altamaha, Ga.

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At 7 p.m. EDT, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Fay, carrying winds near 65 mph, was centered about 45 miles south-southwest of Melbourne, Fla., and was moving toward the north-northeast at near 7 mph.

Bill Read, director of the center, earlier told The Miami Herald the system could re-intensify into a hurricane near the Florida-Georgia border.

"It's remained unusually well-organized for a system that's moved over land," Todd Kimberlain, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center, told The New York Times. "Usually after a system follows land, it's cut off from its energy sources and it weakens significantly."

The Orlando Sentinel reported a tornado hit a mobile home park near Sebastian on the Atlantic coast, and there were reports of two people injured, but details were sketchy.

After ripping through the Caribbean for four days, killing several people, Fay came ashore Tuesday bringing as much as 10 inches of rain.

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Only minor damage and flooding were reported as the storm moved inland, and the state could actually benefit, as Lake Okeechobee is three feet below its normal level.

Dan Summers, director of the Collier County Bureau of Emergency Services, told the Times "we were just pretty lucky this time."

Crab fisherman Richard Collins, 59, said Fay ranked low among the 15 major storms he's experienced. "It was just enough to screw everything up," he said. "It makes a mess."

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