The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday afternoon that Tropical Storm Debby made landfall near Steinhatchee with top winds of 40 mph. Debby
Debby, the fourth named system of the 2012 hurricane season, was expected to bring four to eight inches of rain to northern Florida and southeastern Georgia over the next 48 hours, but should weaken to a tropical depression Tuesday night.
Some parts of northern Florida could see as much as 25 inches of rain, and isolated tornadoes are possible across the state peninsula.
Flooding has left more than 55,000 people in 42 Florida counties without power, the Miami Herald reported. A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the Florida Gulf Coast from Mexico Beach to Englewood.
As the ground becomes saturated, there is a risk of falling trees and sinkholes. Such is the case in Marion County where city officials are waiting for experts to determine if one sinkhole poses risks for nearby residents.
Eight families were evacuated from the Wynchase subdivision in the Fore Ranch community on Monday. Residents like Richard and Kourtney Stoer say they are ready to evacuate. "We have our friends on hold just in case.," said Richard. "They told us we're ok right now, but to be on standby." Wife Kourtney said, "We have medicines paperwork, things like that ready to go."
"There's a lot of anxiety," said Kourtney. "All of us are very nervous. We've all dealt with sinkholes in this area."
Flooding has also led to the closure of portions of a major road connecting Jacksonville to Pensacola. The Florida Highway Patrol closed a section of Interstate 10 in north Florida early Tuesday and warned motorists to use extreme caution on other parts of the highway.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday, and President Barack Obama phoned the governor Tuesday to ensure the state had no unmet needs as it continues to respond to the storm, the White House said. Obama also expressed his condolences for the loss of life and damage the storm has caused.
At a press conference, Scott urged residents to be "very, very, very cautious" as heavy rain from Debby pounded the state.
A tornado caused by the storm claimed one life in Venus, in the center of the state, Sunday afternoon. After raking Florida's Gulf coast with high winds and heavy rain, Debby is expected to move into the Atlantic by Friday.