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    Debby Battering Florida Even Before Landfall

    By By Kristina Pydynowski, Senior Meteorologist
    June 26, 2012, 3:22:55 AM EDT

    Wednesday morning is when Debby is now expected to strike northern Florida, but the state is already enduring the tropical storm's fury.

    Florida has endured heavy rain, strong winds, tornadoes and pounding surf since Debby developed late Saturday afternoon.

    Unfortunately for residents and vacationers, there are no signs of these hazards letting up with Debby now set to reach Florida, in between Apalachicola and Cross City, Wednesday morning.

    Debby is not a compact tropical system with torrential rain wrapping around its eye. Instead, the heaviest rain is east of its center and already soaking Florida.

    Additional bands of heavy rain will continue to inundate Florida's western shores, especially from Tampa to Panama City, through Tuesday night before and during Debby's landfall.

    New and severe flash flooding issues are sure to arise with the ground already saturated from the soaking closing out this weekend.

    A record rainfall of 7.11 inches deluged Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, leading to serious flooding.

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    More than a foot of rain has been unleashed across portions of the state. Several more inches could fall before Debby makes landfall, especially from Tampa to Panama City.

    Rain with localized downpours will expand into northeastern Florida, including Jacksonville, and southeastern Georgia through Tuesday, while some additional drenching showers and thunderstorms invade South Florida.

    Some of the thunderstorms rumbling across Florida have spawned tornadoes due to the twisting motion in the atmosphere created by Debby. One suspected twister claimed at least one life in Lake Placid Sunday afternoon.

    Additional isolated tornadoes could touch down and cause destruction into Tuesday morning, especially across western and southern parts of Florida. The danger will shift to northern Florida later Tuesday and early Wednesday.

    Into this morning, tropical storm-force winds up to 60 mph will remain confined to Florida's western coastline from the Big Bend region to the beaches of the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.


    More of northern Florida will be faced with tropical storm-force winds, capable of causing tree damage and power outages into Tuesday as Debby comes onshore.

    Rough surf is another widespread hazard from Debby, impacting all beaches along Florida's Gulf Coast to southeastern Louisiana.

    Water levels of the Gulf of Mexico have already increased so much that the seawall at the beaches of St. Petersburg were in danger of being breached Sunday afternoon.

    It is not just pounding waves making swimming extremely hazardous, but also the high danger of rip currents.

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