06/10/05 — Arlene's winds increase to 55 mph

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Arlene's winds increase to 55 mph

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on June 10, 2005 1:45 PM

Tropical storm Arlene strengthened Friday as it moved northward through the Gulf of Mexico, bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast still recovering from last year's hurricanes.

Tropical storm watches were posted from Florida to Louisiana for Arlene, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named tropical storm.

The storm was not expected to strengthen into a hurricane. But it could drop as much as 5 to 10 inches of rain, and possibly cause flooding in western Cuba and tornados in southwestern Florida and the Florida Keys, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

"This is going to be a major rainfall event before and ahead of the storm," said Trisha Wallace, a hurricane center meteorologist.

As of 8 a.m., the storm was located about 10 miles north of the western tip of Cuba, moving to the north-northwest at 10 mph. An increase in forward speed was expected over the next 24 hours.

Tropical storm force winds extended outward up to 140 miles northeast of the center. The minimum central pressure measured 1,000 mb or 29.53 inches.

Maximum sustained winds had increased to 55 mph with higher gusts.

Although the center was poorly defined, movement over the warm waters of the Gulf could cause it to strengthen and intensify before projected landfall anywhere from Morgan City, La., to Indian Pass, Fla., late Saturday.

Ahead of the storm, steady rainfall and squalls began to hit Florida on Thursday.

The storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall of 3-5 inches over the southern portion of the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys over the next 24 hours.

Heavy rain may begin spreading over the central and eastern Gulf coast regions later tonight.