A “poorly organized” Tropical Storm Philippe moved closer to South Florida on Saturday night, and tropical storm watches remain in effect for part of the state.
The National Hurricane Center said Philippe, the 16th named storm of 2017 in the Atlantic, could brush the southern part of Florida on its way to the Bahamas. It moved over western Cuba earlier Saturday.
A tropical storm watch is in effect from Craig Key to Golden Beach on Florida’s east coast.
Most of the storm’s winds are on the east and southeast side of the center, but they will come close enough to Florida that forecasters decided watches are necessary. Philippe’s biggest impact for Florida will be rain, which has been spreading northward across the peninsula on Saturday.
As of 10 p.m. CDT Saturday, Tropical Storm Philippe was located about 25 miles northwest of Key West, Fla., and was speeding to the north-northeast at 24 mph, the hurricane center said.
Philippe had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. It is expected to intensify some over the next two days, the hurricane center said.
The hurricane center expects Philippe to lose its tropical characteristics by Monday.
Philippe is expected to pick up even more speed as it continues on a path to the northeast tonight. On that track the center of Philippe will move across the Florida Keys or the southern tip of the Florida peninsula overnight, and across the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday morning, the hurricane center said.
Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for parts of Cuba and the northwestern Bahamas. A tropical storm watch is also in effect for the central Bahamas.
While Philippe likely won’t bring especially strong winds to Florida, will bring heavy rain and strong storms.
The hurricane center said 3 to 5 inches of rain will be possible in South Florida and the Keys, with isolated totals as high as 8 inches.