The Latest: Florida’s Gulf Coast warily eyes brewing storm


MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on tropical storms (all times EDT):

3:00 p.m.

Authorities at some locations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area of Florida are hauling out sandbags to offer residents amid predictions of heavy rains from a storm system heading to the southeast Gulf of Mexico.

The tropical depression was located at 11 a.m. EDT Monday about 170 miles (275 kilometers) west-southwest of Key West, Florida, and moving west at 7 mph (11 kph) with top sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph).

The National Hurricane Center said the storm is expected to eventually turn to the north and then northeast in coming days amid predictions it could drop heavy rains over northern Florida.

St. Petersburg says it began offering free sandbags Monday and will do so again for several hours Tuesday at two locations. Two other local jurisdictions also were making sand bags available.

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11:00 p.m.

Forecasters say Gaston has strengthened a little more and that a tropical storm warning has been issued for a portion of the North Carolina coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Gaston winds increased to 120 mph (195 kph). The storm was located about 575 miles (930 kilometers) east southeast of Bermuda. Gaston is stationary and some weakening expected during the next 48 hours.

The center says a tropical storm has been issued for the coast of North Carolina from Cape Lookout to Oregon Inlet and is bringing the possibility of heavy rain to the coast early this week.

The National Hurricane Center says the depression is located about 285 mph (460 kmp) southeast of Cape Hatteras and is moving west at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds were clocking at 35 mph (55 kph), with higher gusts.

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6:30 p.m.

Forecasters say a tropical depression has formed in the Florida Straits and is expected to produce some rain over the southern half of the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys.

The National Hurricane Center says the depression is located 60 miles (100 kmp) south of Key West and is moving west at about 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds were clocking at 35 mph (55 khp), with higher gusts.

The depression is expected to move away from the Florida Keys and into the Gulf of Mexico overnight.

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12:30 p.m.

Forecasters say a tropical depression has formed in the Atlantic west of Bermuda, bringing the possibility of heavy rain to the coast of North Carolina early this week.

The National Hurricane Center says the depression is located about 405 mph (655 kmp) southeast of Cape Hatteras and is moving west at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds were clocking at 35 mph (55 kph), with higher gusts.

The center of the storm is expected to pass offshore of the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Tuesday.

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Hurricane Gaston has reformed, gathering strength as it moves northwestward in the Atlantic.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Gaston reformed as a hurricane Saturday night, clocking 85 mph (140 kph) winds. The storm was located about 655 miles (1,055 kilometers) east southeast or Bermuda. Gaston was moving at about 8 mph (13 kph).

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 15 miles (30 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 kilometers).

There were no coastal watches or warnings in effect early Saturday.

Forecasters say Gaston should slow down during the next day or so and turn northward on Monday.

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