Thu, Sep 08, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Florida's Atlantic coast set for days of heavy rain

AP , WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

About 193km of Florida's Atlantic coast were under a tropical-storm warning on Tuesday as a new system formed just offshore and threatened to dump up to 380mm of rain in parts of the state.

The tropical depression was threatening to strengthen into Tropical Storm Ophelia by yesterday, which prompted the warning from north of Jupiter to Titusville, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was expected to bring tropical-storm conditions -- winds of at least 63kph -- to the state by yesterday morning.

"The primary concern is very heavy rains," hurricane specialist Richard Pasch said.

A total of 125mm to 250mm of rain were expected over the next few days, with some isolated areas possibly getting 380mm.

The rain was expected to hit areas affected by last year's hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. Much of the region has recovered but some homes remain covered in blue tarps as owners await new roofs.

Emergency management officials in St. Lucie and Indian River counties said they were monitoring the depression for developments but were not taking any protective action.

"Right now we're looking at this as a rain event," said Nathan McCollum, emergency management coordinator for Indian River County.

Two other storms were out in the open ocean on Tuesday as the busy hurricane season continued. Tropical Storm Nate was expected to strengthen south of Bermuda, while Hurricane Maria weakened to a tropical storm while on its way to the colder waters of the north Atlantic.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Nate could reach hurricane strength.

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