MIAMI (WOFL FOX 35) - A tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico could hit northern Florida as a tropical storm later in the week and possibly head toward the Atlantic coast, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. They cautioned that the storm's exact path remained uncertain days in advance.
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The tropical depression, named TD 9, was located at 11 p.m. EDT Monday about 155 miles (245 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 pressure is dropping a little bit more. It is still a tropical depression. It's not a storm as of yet. Thunderstorms are growing quite a bit just south of the center, so things are coming together for the system, and it will become a tropical storm possibly during the day tomorrow and it will be turning back towards Florida," said FOX 35/FOX 51 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Richards.
Authorities at some locations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area of Florida were hauling out sandbags Monday to offer residents amid predictions of heavy rains. Similar precautions were being taken in Marion and Lake counties. Find sandbag locations here.
"The brand new forecast track does bring the system ashore still in the Big Bend of Florida, with winds up to about 55 to 60 miles per hour," Richards added. "But it could be a little higher than that, because the intensity of the system, in the early stages, is hard to forecast. Could be farther south, farther to the north, but the forecast track would drag a big slug of wind and rain all across central and north central Florida, and with it comes a risk of tornadoes and some localized flooding."