August 29, 2016 / 4:15 PM / 4 years ago

North Carolina, Florida menaced as tropical systems churn

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. forecasters issued a tropical storm warning for coastal North Carolina on Monday, while another system churning in the Gulf of Mexico could make landfall in Florida later this week.

Three storm systems are shown (L TO R) Tropical Depression Nine to the southeast of Florida, Tropical Depression Eight just off the coast of the Carolinas and Hurricane Gaston in the central Atlantic Ocean are shown in this GOES East satellite image captured August 29, 2016. NOAA/handout via REUTERS

The two systems, still unnamed tropical depressions, were expected to strengthen into tropical storms by Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami.

The North Carolina tropical storm warning came as a system in the Atlantic Ocean, with gusting winds around 35 miles per hour (55 kmh), was expected to pass near the state’s Outer Banks region late on Tuesday then turn quickly out to sea.

The threat to Florida was expected later in the week from a system that has been dumping torrential rain on western Cuba as it churned a path into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

That tropical depression was expected to become a tropical storm on Tuesday, the NHC said in its advisory late on Monday. The system, located 200 miles (325 km) west-northwest of Havana, Cuba, carried maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 km/h), it said.

Forecasters said the system could make landfall on Thursday around northern Florida’s Gulf Coast, then cut across Georgia and hit the Carolinas on its way to the Atlantic.

The hurricane center also warned that western Cuba could get pounded with as much as 12 inches (30 cm) of rain, potentially triggering life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

Heavy rains could also hammer much of Florida through Thursday, with forecasters warning that up to 10 inches (25 cm) could fall on parts of its Gulf Coast, raising the threat of flooding.

The next two tropical storms of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season will be named Hermine and Ian.

The developing systems come as the season’s first major Atlantic hurricane, Gaston, was expected to remain a hurricane for several days. Gaston was blasting 105 mph (165 kmh) winds on Monday afternoon but posed no current threat to land and was located about 570 miles (915 km) east of Bermuda.

Reporting by Letitia Stein and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Andrew Hay and Paul Tait

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