ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - 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.
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.
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.
The National Hurricane Center confirms Emily made landfall at 10:45 a.m. on Anna Maria Island.
The storm last was located 30 miles southeast of Tampa and 35 miles northwest of Bartow, according to the 2 p.m. Monday, July 31, update from the hurricane center. Maximum winds are sustained at 40 mph, and it is moving east at 10 mph.
The minimum central pressure is 1006 mb.
Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for Charlotte and Lee counties until further notice.
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