Florida gears up for Tropical Storm Emily

August 01, 2017

This NOAA-NAS GOES project satellite handout image shows storm activity in the Atlantic over the US state of Florida at 1900 UTC on July 31, 2017. (AFP)

The US state of Florida braced Monday for a tropical storm as authorities declared an emergency in some areas and warned of heavy rainfall and possible flash floods.

The storm, named Emily, formed in the Gulf of Mexico overnight Sunday and was expected to pass quickly overland for the Atlantic Ocean by Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Governor Rick Scott declared an emergency in 31 of the state's western counties, while local weather authorities warned of gusty winds, lightning, and possible floods after rainfall of three to five inches (seven to 13 cm) in some areas.

"#TropicalStormEmily has made landfall and it is important that families remain vigilant as heavy rain and flooding is expected," said Scott, adding there were currently no evacuation plans. 

As of 2 pm local time (1800 GMT) the storm was 30 miles (50 km) southeast of Tampa advancing at 10 mph (15 kph),  with storm-force winds extending outward up to 60 miles (95 km).

The US Coast Guard, meanwhile, reported that it rescued two fishermen who were found clinging to a range in Tampa Bay after their boats engine died and they began taking on water.

"Emily is forecast to move offshore of the east-central Florida coast Tuesday morning," the NHC said.

Emily is the fifth named storm to be formed in the Atlantic this hurricane season, which began June 1 and will end on November 30. In contrast, the North Pacific has already recorded nine named storms, five of which were hurricanes.