Tropical Storm Sally forms off Florida coast; expected to become hurricane by late Monday


MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Depression Nineteen strengthened into Tropical Storm Sally just off the coast of South Florida Saturday afternoon.

Sally is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall in the northern Gulf Coast.

The tropical storm was located 35 miles (65 kilometers) south-southeast of Naples, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. advisory. It was moving to the west at 7 mph (15 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (55 kph). A tropical storm watch is in effect from the Ochlockonee River to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line.

Sally was forecast to slide into the Gulf and could become a tropical storm later Saturday or early Sunday. The storm is currently expected to bring 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain to parts of Florida, with isolated totals up to 6 inches (15 centimeters). Forecasters with the Hurricane Center also said that the system is forecast to become a hurricane by late Monday.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Paulette had maximum sustained winds at 70 mph (110 kph) and was 565 miles (905 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, where a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are in effect. Forecasters said Paulette would become a hurricane later Saturday and drop up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain on the territory through Monday, adding that it is expected to be a “dangerous hurricane” when it is near Bermuda on Sunday night and Monday.

Tropical Storm Rene grew weaker and was reclassified as a tropical depression. It had maximum sustained winds at 35 mph (55 kph) and was 1,225 miles (2,020 kilometers) east-northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands. Forecasters said Rene wasn’t expected to strengthen and did not pose any threat to land.

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