School classes cancelled for Monday in Miami-Dade, Broward Counties and the Florida Keys. No news on Palm Beach County yet.
Hurricane Watches are in effect for the Florida Keys and southwest Florida (including Naples, Marco Island and Fort Myers.) Tropical Storm watches are in effect for Southeast Florida – south of Jupiter Inlet (including Lake Okeechobee, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.)
After just skimming Cape Cruz, Cuba, early this morning, Tropical Storm Fay is located at 20.8 north, 79.8 west. Maximum-sustained winds are near 50 mph with higher gusts. Fay is still moving west-northwest at 17 mph. Some strengthening is expected through the afternoon as Fay turns on a northwest track through Gulf of Guancanayabo. Fay is expected to remain a tropical storm when it makes a more direct landfall near Trinidad, Cuba, tonight. Rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches are expected across Cuba, Jamaica, and the northern Cayman islands. Isolated amounts of 15 inches are possible, which would cause flash flooding and mudslides.
Fay will weaken as it moves across Cuba, and is forecast to emerge into the Florida Straits as a tropical storm on Monday. Sea surface temperatures in this region are very warm and warm water runs deep in the Florida Straits. This area of deep, warm water will cause Fay to quickly ramp back up to near hurricane strength before moving over the Florida Keys, sometime on Monday afternoon or Monday night.
The storm has been expected to turn to the north, at some point, heading toward Florida. “That turn might come a little later than expected,” said Christopher Sisko, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center. “But we’re still on course for a west coast of Florida landfall. And we’re still forecasting in next 48 hours it could be a minimal hurricane.”
Emergency School Hotlines
In Miami-Dade: 305-468-5400 (Classes cancelled Monday August 18, 2008)
In Broward: 754-321-0321 (Classes cancelled Monday August 18, 2008)
In Palm Beach County: 561-357-7500 (No announcement of class status for Monday August 18, 2008) (The message is recorded in English, Spanish and Creole)
Note: This was posted 17-AUG-2008 at 4:00 PM EDT