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Tropical system approaches Florida with track, strength holding steady

The system, soon to be Tropical Storm Alex, is expected to make landfall in Southwest Florida on Saturday, the hurricane center says.
The five-day outlook for a system in the Gulf of Mexico that's expected to soon become Tropical Storm Alex before making landfall in Southwest Florida on Saturday.
The five-day outlook for a system in the Gulf of Mexico that's expected to soon become Tropical Storm Alex before making landfall in Southwest Florida on Saturday. [ National Hurricane Center ]
Published Jun. 3|Updated Jun. 4

Southwest Florida remained the expected landing spot for the Atlantic hurricane season’s first storm of the summer, which started soaking the state with heavy rain on Friday.

Related: SATURDAY UPDATE: Tropical storm no longer expected but South Florida still braces for floods

Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center expected the storm to organize into Tropical Storm Alex sometime Friday night before making landfall Saturday afternoon near Fort Myers. As it arrives, it’s expected to dump 4-8 inches of rain on Central Florida, with a maximum of 12 inches of rain in South Florida and the Florida Keys, according to the 8 p.m. update.

The system’s path toward the Sunshine State has remained the same since Tuesday. The same goes for the system’s expected strength as a weak tropical storm at the time of landfall. The hurricane center says the system’s biggest threat will be heavy rainfall that could induce isolated flooding.

The hurricane center issued tropical storm warnings on Friday morning that stretched from the Florida Keys north along the coast to Longboat Key, just south of the Tampa Bay area, and into inland Manatee and Polk counties. A warning was also issued for southeast Florida, portions of Cuba and the northwestern Bahamas.

Despite a forecast of significant rainfall in Tampa Bay this weekend, local meteorologists say severe flooding shouldn’t be a worry for the region. Rainfall totals aren’t expected to eclipse 4 inches in even the hardest-hit areas of Tampa Bay.

While Tampa Bay isn’t expected to experience tropical storm conditions, it will still be a windy Saturday here. The National Weather Service says sustained winds between 9 to 17 mph can be expected, as well as more powerful gusts

The same applies to rainfall chances, which are slightly lower in Tampa Bay than to its south. There was a 60% chance of rain Friday night and a 70% chance on Saturday for the region. Those chances dip down to just 20% by Sunday, though isolated thunderstorms are a possibility each day.

• • •

2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

PART 1: The Tampa Bay Times partnered with the National Hurricane Center for a revealing look at future storms.

PART 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don't understand the risk.

PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.

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