WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – About 120 miles of Florida’s Atlantic coast were under a tropical storm warning Tuesday as a new system formed just offshore and threatened to dump up to 15 inches of rain in parts of the state.

The tropical depression could strengthen into Tropical Storm Ophelia today, which prompted the warning from north of Jupiter to Titusville, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is expected to bring tropical storm conditions – with winds of at least 39 mph – to the state by Wednesday morning.

“The primary concern is very heavy rains,” hurricane specialist Richard Pasch said. Five to 10 inches were expected over the next few days, with isolated areas possibly getting 15 inches.

The rain was expected to hit areas affected by last year’s Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. Much of the region has recovered but some homes remain covered in tarps as owners await new roofs.

Emergency management officials in St. Lucie and Indian River counties said they were monitoring the storm for developments but were not taking any protective action.

“Right now we’re looking at this as a rain event,” said Nathan McCollum, emergency management coordinator for Indian River County.

At 5 p.m. EDT, the storm had top sustained winds of about 30 mph and was centered about 175 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral. The storm wasn’t moving, but was expected to start drifting north-northwest later Tuesday.

Two other storms were out in the open ocean Tuesday as the busy hurricane season continued. Tropical Storm Nate was expected to strengthen south of Bermuda, while Hurricane Maria weakened on its way to the colder waters of the north Atlantic.

Nate, the 14th named storm of the season, was centered about 275 miles south-southwest of Bermuda with top sustained winds near 60 mph. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said it could reach hurricane strength, with winds of at least 74 mph, by today.

It wasn’t moving, though it was expected to eventually turn to the northeast over the next 24 hours, forecasters said. Winds of tropical storm strength stretched up to 70 miles from Nate’s center.

“Perhaps by the end of the work week it could be posing a threat to Bermuda, but not the U.S.,” hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said.

Maria peaked late Monday as a Category 3 hurricane with top wind speeds at 115 mph. By 5 p.m. EDT, it was centered about 575 miles east-northeast of Bermuda with winds near 80 mph, forecasters said.

Maria, with hurricane-force winds extending 25 miles from the center, was a threat only to shipping interests as it moved north-northeast at about 7 mph, forecasters said.

Maria is the fifth hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season. The season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Peak storm activity typically occurs from the end of August through mid-September.

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov


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