REUTERS: Florida Governor Rick Scott declared an emergency on Wednesday, with parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast under a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch from an approaching system that forecasters warned could bring life-threatening flooding and fierce winds.
Storm preparations were also underway off the U.S. Pacific coast, where residents of Hawaii’s Big Island were warned of an encroaching hurricane, as well as another brewing hurricane that could impact the state over the weekend.
In Florida, Scott declared an emergency in 42 of the state’s 67 counties in advance of an expected tropical storm that could make landfall on the north-central Gulf Coast between late Thursday and early Friday.
Heavy rains were already pounding parts of the state on Wednesday morning. As much as 15 inches (38 cm) could fall from central to northern Florida, National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
The approaching system, currently an unnamed tropical depression packing 35 mph (55 kph) winds with higher gusts, is expected to strengthen as it heads east. Forecasters said it could be near hurricane strength at landfall.
On its current path, the system would also bring heavy rain into coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas on its way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Another unnamed tropical depression was turning out to sea on Wednesday after threatening the North Carolina coast, according to the hurricane center.
On Hawaii’s Big Island, residents were warned that Hurricane Madeline will bring strong winds and heavy rains as it passes over the area, beginning late on Wednesday. Another brewing hurricane could potentially impact the state over the weekend.
The National Weather Service (NWS) tracked Hurricane Madeline swirling about 200 miles (320 km) east of the town of Hilo around 2 a.m. local time on Wednesday.