Slow-Moving TS Debby Brings Flood Fears To Fla.

By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran

(CBS/AP) MIAMI - Tropical Storm Debby is bringing drenching rain and high winds to parts of the Gulf Coast, and it doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

Debby's center was essentially stationary about 30 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Fla., Monday afternoon. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 45 mph, with higher gusts; tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 230 miles.

Tropical storm conditions will continue over portions of the Florida Gulf Coast today.

The forecast map indicated the storm could inch forward through the week, eventually coming ashore over the Panhandle. However, a storm's path is difficult to discern days in advance.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Florida Gulf Coast from Destin to Englewood.

The combination of storm surge and tides will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters.

The storm has produced isolated tornadoes and water spouts in Florida, and at least one person has been killed. Another person is missing after being lost in the waves off of the Alabama coast.

The damage could go on for days, because the storm is sitting just offshore and barely moving - its speed was measured at 5 mph Monday afternoon . Its slow progress means the most pressing threat from the storm is flooding, not wind.

CBS News hurricane consultant David Bernard, of CBS Station WFOR in Miami said the storm is probably not going to go anywhere any time fast.

"The big issue has been rainfall," Bernard told "CBS This Morning." A public advisory said parts of northern Florida could get 10 to 15 inches of rain, with some areas getting as much as 25 inches.

Coastal South Carolina and Georgia could also see well over another foot of rain.

Residents in several counties near the crook of Florida's elbow were urged to leave low-lying neighborhoods because of the threat of flooding. High winds forced the closure of an interstate bridge that spans Tampa Bay and links St. Petersburg with areas to the southeast. In several locations, homes and businesses were damaged by high winds authorities believe were from tornadoes.

Underscoring the unpredictable nature of tropical storms, forecasters discontinued a tropical storm warning Sunday afternoon for Louisiana after forecast models indicated Debby wasn't likely to turn west. At one point, forecasters expected the storm to come ashore in that state.

"There are always going to be errors in making predictions. There is never going to be a perfect forecast," said Chris Landsea, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.


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