August 22, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay Deadly in Florida

Tropical Storm Fay's winds decreased to 45 mph over North Florida midday Friday, but heavy downpours expanded storm warnings as far west as Mississippi.

At 11 a.m., Fay was about 40 miles northeast of Cedar Key, Fla., with 45 mph winds and a forecast of as much as 8 inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Little change in strength was expected through Saturday morning.

The storm that first hit the Florida Keys Monday was moving west near 5 mph, which forecasters said would continue for two days, eventually reaching Alabama and Mississippi.

A tropical storm watch was declared from west of Destin, Fla., to the Mississippi-Alabama border, as tropical storm-force winds extended 140 miles outward, the center said.

"Over the next 36 hours, Fay is expected to produce rainfall accumulations up to 8 inches across the northern Florida Peninsula, Panhandle, southern Georgia and southeastern Alabama," the report said.

In Tallahassee, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said two drownings, three traffic accidents and one carbon monoxide poisoning death were directly a result of the storm.

Thursday, U.S. President George Bush declared a state of emergency for Florida to release federal funds for disaster relief.