Tropical Storm Debby formed on June 23rd, making it the earliest date in the Atlantic for the 4th named storm, breaking the previous record set by Dennis on July 5th during the infamous 2005 season. It was slow to get organized and was an area of interest since about June 18 in the western Caribbean Sea, before drifting across the Yucatan Pensinsula, and finally reaching tropical storm status in the central Gulf of Mexico. Since then, its motion has been slow and unpredictable owing to weak steering currents, and is now located just 80 miles from the northwest Florida coast.
Tropical Storm Debby remains disorganized with very little deep convection near the center, but as history has taught us, even a weak tropical storm is capable of being destructive.
By far, the biggest issue associated with Debby is the rainfall, as expected. Parts of the Florida panhandle have received nearly 25″ of rain in the past few days (much of that came in the past day), but the bulk of Florida has been hit with 6″ or more. To add to that, an additional 3-6″ is expected over northeastern Florida in the coming few days.
As of 8am EDT today, Tropical Storm Debby has peak sustained winds of 40kts and a 991mb central pressure. It’s centered about 85 miles west of Cedar Key, FL and drifting east at 3kts. It is expected to come ashore on Wednesday morning between Apalachicola and Tampa as a tropical storm.
Again, the biggest threat will be additional heavy rain, and the exact timing and location of landfall makes little difference. As far as storm surge goes, some areas in western Florida could see up to 6′ above normal tidal levels, particularly in Waccasassa Bay, Withlacoochee Bay, Crystal Bay, and Homosassa Bay. You can find additional details and maps of storm surge products at the National Hurricane Center website.
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