Nicole Storm


(CNN) -- A tropical depression over central Cuba became Tropical Storm Nicole Wednesday -- a system that forecasters say will drench parts of Florida and several Caribbean nations.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cayman Islands, the provinces of Cuba from Matanzas east to Ciego De Avila, and the northwestern and central Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said. But tropical storm warnings and watches for Florida have been discontinued.

Five to 10 inches of rain are expected for the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Cuba, and isolated amounts of 20 inches are possible in higher elevations in Cuba and Jamaica. The rains could produce "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," forecasters said.

Four to nine inches are possible over parts of southern Florida and the Bahamas.

An 11 a.m. advisory said the tropical depression strengthened to tropical storm status, with maximum winds of 40 miles per hour.

The center of the system is about 120 miles east-southeast of Havana, Cuba, and 260 miles southwest of Nassau. It is moving northeast at 9 miles per hour and will gradually increase in speed over the next 24 hours.

The center will move over the Florida straits later in the afternoon and will move near the northwestern Bahamas on Wednesday night.

As for wind, tropical storm conditions are expected Wednesday and Thursday in the warning area. There could also be isolated tornadoes along the coast of southeastern Florida and the Florida Keys.

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