At 11:00 AM EDT (1500 UTC),
Tropical Storm Katrina threatened to dump more than a foot of rain on parts of water-logged Florida as it approached the state Wednesday, August 24, 2005 with forecasters expecting it to strengthen to a weak hurricane before hitting the coast.
A hurricane warning is in effect for portions of southeastern Florida as Tropical Storm Katrina churns toward the U.S. state.
The latest advisory from the U.S. National Weather Service puts the storm 145 kilometers east of Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the state's southeast coast. It says Katrina is expected to reach hurricane status within 24 hours.
Forecasters say Katrina, packing winds near 85 kilometers per hour, is moving in a westerly direction away from the Bahamas at about 13 kilometers per hour. Tropical Storm warnings remain in effect for the Bahamas.
The storm is expected to hit Florida later Thursday or early Friday.
Many in the area - hit by two hurricanes the previous year (2004) - didn't seem too worried about the slow-moving storm whose worst threat appeared to be flooding. Hardware stores noticed a slight increase in sales, but there didn't appear to be a crush of customers looking for plywood, water and other supplies.
Only a handful of people were buying hurricane supplies at a Home
Depot in Davie. When asked if he was scared about Katrina, Joel
A 150-mile stretch of Florida's coast including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Vero Beach was under a hurricane watch, meaning sustained winds of at least 74 mph were possible by Friday, August 26, 2005. The watch area also included inland Lake Okeechobee.
Broward County recommended that people evacuate barrier islands and
low-lying regions, and some schools in the area were closing Thursday
Katrina formed Wednesday, August 24, 2005 over the Bahamas and was expected to cross Florida before heading into the Gulf of Mexico. It could dump 6-12 inches of rain in the state, with some spots getting up to 20 inches.
National Hurricane Center meteorologist Eric Blake said residents of threatened areas should consider putting up hurricane shutters, particularly in coastal and exposed areas. Storm surge flooding of 3 to 5 feet topped by battering waves is expected.
At the Century Village retirement community in West Palm Beach, roof repairs were recently completed after it was hit by hurricanes Jeanne and Frances the previous year in 2004.
"I don't think anybody is really terribly concerned about this one because it looks like it's going to be a tropical storm," said Jean Dowling, vice president of the residents' association. "Now if it turns into a full-fledged hurricane, then you're going to see some scurrying."
Because of Katrina, Gov. Jeb Bush (President George Bush's brother) canceled a business trip to Peru that was to begin Wednesday and planned to return to Florida from Virginia, where he was attending a hearing on military base realignment.
At 5 p.m. EDT, the season's 11th named storm had top sustained winds
of 45 mph. Katrina was centered about 185 miles east-southeast of the
Florida coast and was moving northwest at 9 mph.
The storm formed late on August 23 and developed quickly into a tropical storm by 11 a.m. the next morning. By the time MODIS noticed the storm was just starting to take the recognizable swirling shape of a hurricane. Katrina had winds of 64 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour) and was expected to get stronger as it approached the south Florida coast, possibly becoming a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore.
A more serious danger is Katrina's rains. The storm is moving slowly, just 13 km/hr (8 mph), and it is expected to slow as it moves over land. This means that Katrina's heavy rains will linger longer over one area, dumping 15-25 centimeters (6-10 inches) of rain over Florida and the Bahamas and possibly up to 38 cm (15 inches) in some regions.
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