Tropical Storm Arlene, the first named tropical storm of the 2005 hurricane season, is developing in the northwest Caribbean. Tropical storms have top sustained winds of 39 mph to 74 mph.
NOAA forecasters predict the storm will take a path toward the Florida Panhandle and Alabama. They predict it will be felt along Florida’s west coast, with from 2 to 4 inches of heavy rain and flooding in coastal areas.
Arlene had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph after strengthening from a tropical depression that formed Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
Coastal flooding has been predicted along its path as the storm continues north, missing direct contact with Florida, but bringing heavy rain to the west of the Sunshine State.
At 8 a.m. EDT, the storm’s center was about 190 miles south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba. It was moving north at about 8 mph, and this motion could bring the storm’s center near western Cuba as early as Thursday night, forecasters said.
The Cuban government has issued a tropical storm watch for the western province of Pinar Del Rio to the capital of Havana.
The depression was causing heavy rains and squalls across the Cayman Islands and western and central Cuba. Forecasters warned that very heavy rains in Nicaragua and Honduras could cause flash floods and mud slides.
Editor’s note: See related story in International news.
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