Tropical Storm Emily moving across Florida

MIAMI - 6:15 p.m.

Florida's Division of Emergency Management says 7,800 homes and business remain without power because of a tropical system, and that they are mostly in Manatee and Hillsborough counties. The number of outages was up to nearly 18,000 in the early afternoon after Tropical Storm Emily began crossing Florida. Emily has since been downgraded to a tropical depression as it makes its way toward the Atlantic coast.

Manatee County has 3,926 outages while Hillsborough stands at 1,362.

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5 p.m.

Emily is a tropical storm no more. The National Hurricane Center says Emily lasted only a few hours as a tropical storm after forming earlier Monday in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida.

As of 5 p.m. EDT Monday, Emily was downgraded to a tropical depression though forecasters say heavy rain is still possible across southeastern Florida as the ill-defined system heads toward the Atlantic coast in coming hours. The Miami-based center says 1 to 2 inches (25-50 mm) of rain are possible in the region, with totals of up to 8 inches (200 mm) possible in some isolated spots.

The storm system was centered Monday afternoon about 30 miles (45 kms) northwest of Sebring in south-central Florida and moving toward the east-northeast at 12 mph (19 kph). The center says the storm's top winds had dropped to near 35 mph (55 kph) and some additional weakening is possible as Emily moves across the central Florida peninsula overnight.

Forecasters say Emily should enter the Atlantic by Tuesday, with some slow strengthening in the forecast once the storm system is back out over open water.

A tropical storm warning along Florida's Gulf Coast has been discontinued.

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4 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued two fishermen from Tampa Bay as Tropical Storm Emily hit Florida's Gulf Coast.

A Coast Guard statement said 47-year-old Tung Le and 41-year-old Thanh Le called 911 Monday morning, saying they were clinging to a range light in the bay after their 17-foot (5-meter) boat sank. The call was transferred to the Coast Guard, which launched a response boat.

The brothers told their rescuers that their engine died. The boat began taking on water, and their pump wasn't working. They eventually drifted into the range light and hopped on. No injuries were reported.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Alejandro Diaz said in a statement that hurricane season makes it more important than ever for mariners to check the weather forecast before heading out. He said they also should know the limitations of their vessel.

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3 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says that about 18,000 homes and businesses are without power due to Tropical Storm Emily.

Scott said during a press briefing in Tallahassee, Florida, on Monday afternoon that most of the outages are in Manatee County, where 10,000 customers are without power.

Scott, who was in Maine on vacation and returned to the state when the advisory changed, said that this was a reminder that severe weather can strike the state at any time.

State emergency management officials also said that the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay has been reopened, after being closed for a time because of gusting winds.

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2 p.m.

Tropical Storm Emily is now headed inland across west-central Florida amid forecasts of heavy rain over the southern and central parts of the peninsula.

At 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Emily was centered about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Tampa and had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph). It is moving at 10 mph (17 kph) to the east and expected to weaken to a tropical depression in the coming hours as it crosses the peninsula and then enters.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Emily, which made landfall south of the mouth of Tampa Bay late Monday morning, is expected to move out into the Atlantic Ocean off Florida's east-central coast on Tuesday morning.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect from Englewood to Bonita Beach.

Forecasters say Emily is expected to dump between 2 to 4 inches (50 to 100 millimeters) of rain between the Tampa bay area and Naples, with isolated amounts up to 8 inches (200 millimeters) in spots. Elsewhere across central and south Florida, 1 to 2 inches (25 to 50 millimeters) of rain are possible.

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11:30 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is declaring a state of emergency in 31 counties because of Tropical Storm Emily.

Scott issued the declaration on Monday morning for Emily, which made a late-morning landfall along the coast and is expected to cross the Florida peninsula in coming hours.

Florida has a total of 67 counties. The emergency declaration covers all counties in the central and southern regions of the state.

The emergency declaration makes it easier for state and local officials to respond to the storm. It also triggers certain laws dealing with price-gouging and allows local authorities to use certain state buildings as shelters. The declaration also calls for the activation of the Florida National Guard to help if needed.

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11:15 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Emily has made landfall on the Gulf Coast.

The Miami-based center says Emily reached the coast at Anna Maria Island, just west of Bradenton, Florida, at about 11:10 a.m. EDT Monday.

The storm was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) south of St. Petersburg and has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) and is moving to the east at 9 mph (15 kph).

As the ill-defined storm began lumbering ashore, the Florida Highway Patrol closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay due to high winds from Emily.

Sgt. Steve Gaskins said in an email that the bridge was shut down Monday morning because of winds that were gusting at more than 60 mph (95 kph). He urged motorists to seek alternate routes.

A flood watch is in effect for much of the Tampa area. That means there could be some street flooding in low-lying areas. Law enforcement officials are urging people to be careful while driving in these areas.

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11 a.m.

Tropical Storm Emily is approaching the mouth of Tampa Bay on Florida's Gulf Coast and heavy rainfall is expected in coming hours as the storm crosses the peninsula.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Emily was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) southwest of Tampa at 11 a.m. EDT Monday and moving to the east at 9 mph (15 kph). A tropical storm warning is in effect from Anclote River to Bonita Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Forecasters say Emily should dump between 2 to 4 inches of rain through Monday night between the Tampa bay area and Naples, with isolated amounts up to 8 inches possible. Lesser amounts were predicted elsewhere in the region. The center says the storm could spin off a brief tornado or even isolated waterspouts over coastal waters of southwestern Florida.

The storm is expected to move inland and cross the Florida peninsula in coming hours and then move offshore of east-central Florida on the Atlantic coast by Tuesday morning.

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9 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will be heading to the state's Emergency Operations Center to get a briefing on Tropical Storm Emily.

The storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa on Monday morning and is expected to move inland.

Scott said in a news release that residents of the affected areas should remain vigilant as the storm crosses central Florida, brining wind and rain to central and southern Florida.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm's maximum sustained winds increased to near 45 mph (72 kph) on Monday morning, but the winds are expected to decrease as the system moves inland. It's expected to cross the state and enter the Atlantic Ocean late Monday or early Tuesday.

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7:50 a.m.

Tropical Storm Emily has formed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of west-central Florida and is expected to move inland across the peninsula.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm's maximum sustained winds increased Monday morning to near 45 mph (72 kph) but it's expected to weaken do a tropical depression as it moves inland.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for a section of the Florida coast from the Anclote River to Bonita Beach.

The storm is centered about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west-southwest of Tampa and is moving east near 8 mph (13 kph). It's expected to bring rain and wind to central and southern Florida.

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© 2017 Associated Press


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