Tropical Storm Emily to threaten Florida with flooding, rip currents into Tuesday

Tropical Storm Emily will unload torrential rainfall and raise the risk of flooding and rip currents in central and southern Florida into Tuesday.

The system formed over the Gulf of Mexico, just west of Tampa, Florida, during early Monday morning. Tropical Depression Six was upgraded to Tropical Storm Emily a few hours later.

Since Emily is so close to land and will soon move inland, additional strengthening is unlikely through Tuesday.

Emily moved ashore near Anna Maria Island, Florida, at 10:45 a.m. EDT Monday. Anna Maria Island is near the southern entrance of Tampa Bay.

Static Emily Florida Impacts

"As the system moves on an east to northeast path over central Florida during Monday night, it is likely to weaken to a tropical depression," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

Emily to cross Florida with flooding downpours

Emily will cause locally gusty winds with and without thunderstorms and create rough surf along both the east and west coasts of central and southern Florida.

Locally strong and frequent rip currents are likely, and seas may be too rough for small craft.

However, it is the rainfall that will be the most problematic.

"Rainfall of 2-4 inches will be common, but local amounts near 8 inches are possible," Pydynowski said.

Motorists should be prepared to seek an alternate route as roads that drain poorly during heavy rainfall will likely become flooded.

Major Florida cities at risk for street and poor drainage area flooding include Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Naples, Melbourne, West Palm Beach, Fort Pierce, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

"Emily will emerge along the east coast of Florida sometime on Tuesday," Pydynowski said.

Emily to strengthen over Atlantic Ocean later this week

Emily is likely to regain strength and could become a hurricane over the Atlantic at midweek. Rip currents and rough surf will be an issue in some locations. Tropical development in the Atlantic ramps up quickly during August.

Strong west to southwest winds aloft will likely prevent Emily from making a northward turn toward the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts late this week.

Only if these steering winds aloft become more southerly would Emily move back over the United States.

However, seas will build offshore of the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and around Bermuda as the week progresses. How rough surf conditions get will depend on Emily's strength and proximity to the coast.

Bathers should be alert for strong and frequent rip currents, while small craft operations may want to exercise caution outside of protected intercoastal waters from Florida to Massachusetts.

Atlantic bears watching as August progresses

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, rapid tropical development is not likely over the next few days.

There are a few clusters of thunderstorms moving westward off the coast of Africa that are being monitored.

Dry air, dust from the Sahara Desert and strong westerly winds aloft will prevent rapid organization and strengthening as has been the case in recent weeks, according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

"However, in the coming weeks, if these negative development factors diminish, then the Atlantic could get busy in a hurry as we move toward the heart of the hurricane season," Kottlowski said.

During August and early September, the chance of tropical storm and hurricane formation increases exponentially.

The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is during the middle of September as water temperatures are at their highest, the atmosphere is very moist and winds aloft are light.