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Tropical Storm Watch Issued for Parts of Florida Panhandle Ahead of Tropical Depression Nineteen

Saturday morning update: Tropical Depression Nineteen was observed to be moving across The Everglades and expected to emerge into the southeast Gulf of Mexico Saturday afternoon. Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for the Florida Panhandle from the Ochlocknee River to the Okaloosa/Walton County line.  TD 19 is expected to intensify into Tropical Storm Sally by Saturday night, then continue strengthening as it approaches landfall across the northern Gulf Coast states Monday. Heavy rain, gusty winds, rough seas, and coastal flooding will be possible from Pensacola to Florida's Big Bend from this storm late Sunday through Monday.

Original story published Friday evening: A tropical wave producing thunderstorms over the Bahamas has strengthened into Tropical Depression Nineteen (TD 19).

On Friday evening, the National Hurricane Center said that the system had become better organized, was producing maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, and was moving to the west-northwest at 8 miles per hour.

The system is expected to continue on a northwestward track, and should enter the Gulf of Mexico early on Saturday, where it could intensify. Regardless of when this occurs, periods of heavy rain are expected to impact parts of South Florida on Saturday, and the parts of Florida's Gulf Coast on Sunday.

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A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for parts of Southeast Florida from Jupiter Inlet along the Treasure Coast to just north of Ocean Reef in the Northern Keys. A Flood Watch is in effect from Levy County along the Nature Coast to southern Collier County in Southwest Florida.

Rainfall amounts through Sunday are likely to range from 2 to 4 inches along and west of I-75 from Tampa to Naples, with locally higher amounts possible in some areas. Generally, 1 to 3 inches of rain is expected over the three-day period across the western half of the peninsula and along coastal sections of the Florida Panhandle. Lesser amounts of rain are expected along Florida's Atlantic Coast, except for portions of South Florida where amounts up to 2 inches will be possible.

Elsewhere in the tropics, there are multiple areas being monitored for possible future development in the next five days. However, none of them are an immediate threat to the Sunshine State. Tropical storms Paulette and Rene also continue to spin across the central Atlantic, but are not likely to affect any land areas of North America.

The next tropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season would be named “Sally”. The current record for earliest “S” named storm belongs to Stan which formed on October 2, 2005. There have already been an impressive fourteen records for earliest named storms this year in the tropical Atlantic basin.

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