MIAMI — Parts of Florida braced for heavy rain and wind Saturday as a storm system that battered Mexico moves across the state.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm once known as Agatha in the Pacific Ocean will be known as Alex in the Atlantic Ocean basin, once it reaches tropical storm status.
At 8 a.m. EDT, a tropical storm warning was in effect for the Florida Keys, Florida Bay, portions of the state’s East and West coast, Lake Okeechobee, the northwestern Bahamas and several Cuban provinces.
The storm’s center was located about 45 miles (70 kilometers) south-southwest of Ft. Myers, Florida, and about 160 miles (255 kilometers) southwest of Vero Beach. It was moving northeast at 18 mph (30 kph). The storm is expected to reach tropical storm strength off the East Coast of Florida by Saturday night and is expected to strengthen through Monday as it moves away from Florida and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said most government services, such as bus routes and trains, planned to operate as normal over the weekend. Canal levels in South Florida have been lowered to minimize flooding from heavy rains.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially began Tuesday. This is an unusually early start to the storm season but not unprecedented for Florida.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that rainfall up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) is possible in South Florida, including the Florida Keys. The storm is not expected to produce huge winds or major storm surge. But local flooding is likely.