Florida’s west coast braced for heavy rain and high winds as Tropical Storm Emily neared Tampa Monday morning, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency.

The storm that quickly formed over the Gulf of Mexico Sunday was located about 35 miles southwest of Tampa, with sustained winds of 45 mph, National Hurricane Center forecasters said in their 11 a.m. advisory. The storm was rolling east at 9 mph, with much of the southwest Florida coast, from north of Naples to Tarpon Springs, under a tropical storm warning.

Emily is expected to make landfall this afternoon as it moves toward the mouth of Tampa Bay, forecasters said, dumping between two and four inches of rain along its path. Up to eight inches are possible in some locations.

Scott declared an emergency in 31 counties in anticipation of Emily’s heavy rain.

“I have declared a state of emergency across 31 counties to ensure that every community has the resources they need, and that state, regional and local agencies can easily work together to keep people prepared during Tropical Storm Emily,” Scott said in a statement.

Forecasters said ham radio operators were beginning to report some street flooding already occurring in Manatee and Sarasota Counties near the Myakka River. Forecasters also warned that tornadoes were possible later Monday over central and South Florida.

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SOURCE: Miami Herald, Jenny Staletovich

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