TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist issued a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon as Tropical Storm Hanna loomed.
Hanna is the third storm to threaten Florida in three weeks, and the fourth hurricane of the season. It was forecast to move into the southeastern and central Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hanna was a hurricane Monday, but weakened back to a tropical storm Tuesday.
Crist said Florida should be ready for flash floods and winds of up to 111 mph.
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However, there is no certainty that Hanna will hit Florida. Current forecasts show it could also make landfall in coastal Georgia, the Carolinas or elsewhere.
The emergency declaration allows the state to more easily mobilize employees, law enforcement personnel and other resources.
Hanna slumped to tropical storm strength while grinding away at the Bahamas and other Atlantic islands on Tuesday.
The storm snapped trees and kept Providenciales, capital of the Turks and Caicos islands, without power. It hurled rains that caused flooding across Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico, where at least one university student died in a rain-swollen river.
Hanna's maximum sustained winds slipped to 70 mph, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said it could regain hurricane strength of 74 mph within a day. Forecasters say it could hit the U.S. coast by Friday or Saturday.
"Right now, the uncertainty is such that it could hit anywhere from Miami to the outer banks of North Carolina," said Jessica Schauer Clark, a meteorologist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center. "So people really need to keep an eye on it."