The 5 p.m. Sunday five-day forecast track from the National Hurricane Center shows Tropical Storm Debby about 165 miles south-southeast of Apalachicola.
A close up view of the 5 p.m. Sunday five-day forecast track from the National Hurricane Center shows Tropical Storm Debby about 165 miles south-southeast of Apalachicola.
Computer models have changed to show Tropical Storm Debby heading toward Florida’s Pandhandle.
Pinellas County joined the list of places under a tropical storm watch Sunday afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center extended its watch area due to Tropical Storm Debby southward along the west coast of Florida down to Englewood. A tropical storm warning is in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama eastward to the Suwannee River.
The NHC’s 5 p.m. advisory reports that the center of Debby is about 205 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 165 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola. Maximum sustained winds were 60 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast Debby was moving northeast at about 3 mph.
The latest tracking map brings Debby ashore in the Florida Panhandle on Thursday afternoon. The intensity forecast no longer shows the storm strengthening into a hurricane.
“There has been a significant change in the forecast track with this advisory,” NHC meteorologist said in the 5 p.m. discussion. “The official forecast no longer brings Debby westward along the northern Gulf of Mexico and instead keeps the cyclone meandering over the northeastern Gulf for the next three to four days.”
Forecasters say that computer models continue in disagreement; however two “reliable models are in marginally better agreement.
“I am a little more confident, but not completely, that Debby is not going to turn westward over the Gulf,” forecaster Avila said. “New official track remains a low-confidence forecast.”
Tropical storm force winds extend outward 200 miles from the center.
Pinellas County is experiencing heavy rains, gusty winds and reports of possible tornados are coming in. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge closed about 4 p.m. Street flooding, especially in low-lying areas and along the beaches are being reported.
Residents are advised to stay home, if possible, and be ready to move to a place of safety.