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Tropical storm to aim for Florida with flooding rain, severe storms

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Tropical Depression Nine is expected to strengthen to a tropical storm and will turn toward Florida with heavy rain, gusty winds and the risk of flooding late this week.

The next name on the list of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes for 2016 is Hermine.

The center of the storm is located about 450 miles southwest of Apalachee Bay, Florida.

"We expect the storm to make a curve to the northeast at midweek and should make landfall north of Tampa and perhaps close to Apalachicola, in the Big Bend of Florida during Thursday evening," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

"Only if the storm remains weak and poorly organized will the track shift farther to the west along the Gulf coast," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

The storm will unload a general 4-8 inches of rain with locally 12 inches possible. This rainfall is enough to cause urban and low-lying area flooding.

Near and just south of the center of the storm, onshore winds will push Gulf of Mexico water landward and are likely to cause coastal flooding. Major cities that can be affected by coastal flooding include Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, even if the storm makes landfall 100 miles or more to the north.

In addition to the risk of flooding, locally severe thunderstorms will have the potential to bring damaging wind gusts. Near and shortly after the storm makes landfall, there will be a significant risk of waterspouts and tornadoes being spawned in central and northern Florida.

People in the central and northern part of the Florida Peninsula and the eastern part of the Florida Panhandle should be prepared for tropical storm to minimal hurricane conditions with power outages, flooded roads and airline disruptions.

Sea and surf conditions will become dangerous along the Florida west coast on Wednesday and the upper east coast on Thursday.

After traversing the Florida Peninsula on Thursday night, the storm will emerge from northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia on Friday morning. In this position, rough surf, gusty winds and heavy rains will lash coastal areas.

The storm will roughly parallel the Carolina coast on Friday afternoon and into Saturday morning.

How close to the coast the storm tracks will determine how much strength the system maintains. A track just offshore of the Carolinas could allow for strengthening. A track just inland through Saturday would cause the storm to unwind.

During the rest of the Labor Day weekend, there are two scenarios for Hermine. One scenario would accelerate the storm farther out to sea. In another scenario, the storm could slow and stall near the mid-Atlantic or New England coasts.

In either case, sea and surf conditions will be rough much of the time along much of the East coast of the U.S. this weekend due to Hermine and a much more distant Gaston.