Tornadoes from Tropical Storm Debby hit Florida, one dead

MIAMI Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:26pm EDT

MIAMI (Reuters) - Two tornadoes spawned by Tropical Storm Debby, the first named storm of 2012 to enter the Gulf of Mexico, hit Florida on Sunday, killing a woman, injuring a child and wrecking homes in the central portion of the state, an official said.

The twisters hit the southern end of rural Highlands County and wrecked four homes and damaged several others, a mix of mobile homes and concrete-block residences, spokeswoman Gloria Rybinski of Highlands County Emergency Management said.

"We have one confirmed death of a woman, and a child was severely injured and transported to a hospital," Rybinski said. Further details were unavailable.

The twisters came as Debby churned on an uncertain track toward Florida's Gulf coast on Sunday, bringing strong winds and waves that forced the closure of about a quarter of offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Debby was centered about 205 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and was moving slowly northeast at about 3 mph at 4 p.m. CDT (2100 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said. Debby, no longer expected to gain hurricane strength, packed winds of 60 mph, the Miami-based center said.

Citing a "significant change in the forecast track," the NHC said Debby was expected to hit the Florida Panhandle near Panama City on Thursday as a tropical storm.

(Reporting by Michael Connor in Miami; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott)

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