As far as tropical systems go, Tropical Storm Emily was mostly a heavy rain event. But, she kept emergency management officials in Florida preoccupied on Monday.
Emily surprised a lot of people by developing into a tropical storm overnight just off the coast of the Tampa Bay area.
Gov. Rick Scott, who was on vacation, found out about Emily when he was briefed by state officials during a 6 a.m. conference call Monday morning. He immediately returned to Tallahassee where he monitored the storm’s progress from the state’s emergency operations center.
“Today is a reminder that, in Florida, severe weather can come at any time, especially during the hurricane season,” Scott said. “It’s very important that every county be prepared on the front-end.”
As a precaution, Scott declared a state of emergency for 31 of Florida’s 67 counties. That triggered the activation of the state’s price gouging law by Attorney General Pam Bondi.
State law prohibits businesses from charging excessive prices for those items that are considered essential commodities, such as gasoline, food and hotels, when a state of emergency is declared.
The ill-defined storm made landfall around 10:45 Monday morning just south of Tampa. Emily was forecast to dump 2 to 4 inches of rain along parts of Florida’s west coast, with isolated cases of rainfall reaching 8 inches.
In addition to rainfall, the storm brought winds of up to 45 mph in some areas along Florida’s west coast. At one point there were 18,000 homes that reportedly lost power due to the storm.
State officials warned Floridians to be aware of the possibility of flash flooding and to be cautious in areas where there is standing water. Scott urged state residents to stay alert and heed the advice of local emergency officials.
The system is expected to weaken as it move eastward across the state.