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Emily Expected To Bring Heavy Rain To Central Florida


MIAMI (AP) — Emily is a tropical storm no more. The National Hurricane Center says Emily lasted only a few hours as a tropical storm after forming earlier Monday in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida.

As of 5 p.m. EDT Monday, Emily was downgraded to a tropical depression though forecasters say heavy rain is still possible across southeastern Florida as the ill-defined system heads toward the Atlantic coast in coming hours.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 31 counties because of Tropical Storm Emily. The emergency declaration covers all counties in the central and southern regions of the state.

Scott issued the declaration on Monday morning for Emily, which made a late-morning landfall along the coast and is expected to cross the Florida peninsula in coming hours.

The emergency declaration makes it easier for state and local officials to respond to the storm. It also triggers certain laws dealing with price-gouging and allows local authorities to use certain state buildings as shelters. The declaration also calls for the activation of the Florida National Guard to help if needed.

The National Weather Service says Emily will weaken to a depression Monday afternoon and evening. The storm should move offshore of the Florida east coast overnight.

Tony Cristaldi, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, explains that Emily is a very weak tropical storm.

“Emily is probably about as weak of a tropical storm as you can get. It’s a minimal tropical storms, with 40 to 45 mph winds and it's weakening, it's going to be back to a depression. And those winds were confined to a small area near the center,” Cristaldi said.

The storm's biggest impact is expected to be felt south of Saint Cloud and Cape Canaveral, moving along the Treasure Coast and Lake Okeechobee regions of the state. Forecasters say torrential rainfall is expected through Monday afternoon into the evening with lightening and wind gusts of up to 50 mph.

The heavy rainfall in east central Florida, 1 to 2 inches, are in the forecast from south of Saint Cloud and Cape Canaveral to Okeechobee. The National Weather Service says it's possible that some isolated areas could receive up to 4 inches. Forecasters expect from Orlando and Cape Canaveral and northward will receive less rain as drier air pushes into those areas north of the storm.