Tropical storm Barry is dumping heavy rain on Florida's northwestern panhandle region after coming ashore early Monday from the Gulf of Mexico. Barry, the Atlantic hurricane season's second named storm, never reached hurricane strength. But it came close before making landfall, with top winds of 119 kilometers an hour.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush says, even as Barry heads north over neighboring Alabama, the danger is not over for residents in the northwestern part of his state.
"We're still in the middle of this storm," he said. "It's possible that rivers will crest with a lot of rainfall and, as rain drops to the north of us, it could come right back down into Florida. So, people should take this very seriously."
Several counties in the panhandle issued evacuation advisories and opened shelters Sunday as Barry bore down on the region. Power outages, flooded roads, downed trees and damaged homes have been reported.
Barry is moving on a northerly track at 13 kilometers an hour. National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield says the storm could dump as much as 25 centimeters of rain on affected areas.
"We are still going to be concerned over the next few days with the rainfall," he said. "After a day or two it [Barry] could slow down again. Even as it moves into the Mississippi valley area we need to watch it carefully."
Barry made landfall less than two months after another tropical storm, Allison, carved a path of destruction along the southeastern United States from Texas to Georgia. More than 30 deaths were blamed on the Allison, with damage estimated in the billions of dollars.
The six-month Atlantic hurricane season is entering it's busiest phase. Storm activity often picks up in August and September before leveling off in October. Hurricane experts have predicted a busier than normal season this year.