Emergency Order Issued for Storm in Gulf

Randall Weiseman Cattle, Citrus, Field Crops, Florida, Forestry, General, Industry News Release, Livestock, Specialty Crops, Weather


tropical-depression-9-2016THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, August 31, 2016………. A state of emergency was declared Wednesday for 42 counties in North and Central Florida as a tropical depression churned in the Gulf of Mexico.

The system has the potential to reach hurricane strength before making landfall somewhere around the Big Bend this week, state officials said.

Gov. Rick Scott, who issued the emergency declaration, said Wednesday that 8,000 members of the Florida National Guard are ready to be deployed as the storm system is on track to hit the state late Thursday or early Friday.

Scott warned that the system will bring the potential of lightning, tornadoes, flooding and standing water that could heighten the risk of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been found across the state.

“We’re going to see a lot of rain, we’re going to see five to 10 inches of rain, potentially 15 inches of rain,” Scott said after receiving a storm update at the state Emergency Operations Center.

Scott also warned Floridians to take precautions before, during and after the storm, which could be the first hurricane to hit the state in more than a decade.

“We’re going to see downed power lines,” Scott said.

Scott’s announcement came after the National Hurricane Center on Tuesday issued a hurricane watch for parts of the state’s Gulf Coast, with people from northern Florida through the Carolinas advised to monitor the system.

“By declaring a state of emergency in advance of this storm, we are ensuring that state, regional and local agencies can work together to meet the needs of our communities,” Scott said.

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon said the storm is expected to impact a “large part of north-central Florida.”

“It will become a tropical storm today,” Koon said Wednesday morning. “There is still a possibility that it can even become a Cat 1 hurricane.”

A Category 1 hurricane has average wind speeds between 74 and 95 mph.

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, the system, sitting about 420 miles west-southwest of Tampa, had maximum sustained winds of 34 mph.

The National Hurricane Center said the meandering depression is expected to strengthen and accelerate north-northeastward or northeastward by Wednesday night.

The counties in Scott’s order are: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Calhoun, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Orange, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia and Wakulla.

The areas under the hurricane watch are between the Anclote River, near Tarpon Springs, to Indian Pass, south of Port St. Joe in Gulf County. A tropical-storm warning also remained in place from Indian Pass west to the Walton County-Bay County line.