Hurricane warning issued for parts of
Florida; Madeline weakens off Hawaii
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[September 01, 2016]
TAMPA BAY, Fla. (Reuters) -
Forecasters and public officials urged Floridians to prepare for
potentially catastrophic flooding and damaging winds as Tropical Storm
Hermine was expected to become a hurricane by the time it reached
Florida's northern Gulf Coast on Thursday.
A hurricane warning was in effect for the Florida panhandle from the
Suwannee River to Mexico Beach as the strengthening storm was expected
to sweep across northern parts of the state and then northeast along the
Atlantic Coast, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
The forecast of rough weather prompted Florida Governor Rick Scott to
declare an emergency on Wednesday as many school districts along the
Gulf Coast canceled after-school activities and ordered students to stay
home on Thursday.
Cities such as Tallahassee and Orlando were offering sandbags to
residents to protect homes and businesses from flooding caused by the up
to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain as heavy rains were already pounding parts
of the state and were expected through Friday.
"There is a danger of life-threatening inundation," said the center's
advisory that noted the possibility of as much as 20 inches (20 cm) of
rain to fall in some isolated areas and life-threatening flash flooding.
The storm, packing winds of 60 mph (95 kmh) with higher gusts, was
expected to get stronger by the time it reach landfall, making outside
preparations difficult or dangerous, the center said.
"Heavy rainfall and strong winds will make driving dangerous. Even after
the storm passes, citizens should avoid unnecessary travel to allow
first responders and road clearing crews to quickly respond to emergency
needs," the City of Tallahassee said in an alert to residents.
On its current path, the system would also dump as much as 10 inches (25
cm) of rain on coastal areas of Georgia, which was under a tropical
storm watch, and the Carolinas.
A tropical storm warning was also issued for the U.S. east coast from
Marineland, Florida to South Santee River, South Carolina, the
Miami-based weather forecaster said.
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A city worker fills sandbags to help residents prepare for an
expected tropical storm in Gulfport, Florida, U.S., October 31,
2016. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
U.S. oil and gas producers in the east of the Gulf of Mexico removed
workers from 10 offshore platforms, moved drilling rigs and shut
some output because of the storm.
The hurricane center also said in an advisory that the center of
Hurricane Gaston will move near the Azores on Friday.
Meantime, Hurricane Madeline weakened to a tropical storm as it
passed south of Hawaii's Big Island, where officials opened shelters
and closed offices, schools and roads on Wednesday.
The tropical storm, before it moves westward out of reach of Hawaii,
was expected to dump as much as 15 inches (40 cm) of rain on parts
of the Big Island, according to the National Weather Service.
Hurricane Lester, currently a major Category 4 storm, could affect
Hawaii over the weekend.
Hawaii Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation that runs
through Sept. 9, freeing up state resources.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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