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SERVICES 
Monday, 6 August, 2001, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Tropical storm hits Florida
Satellite image of tropical storm Barry
The most immediate concern is the flood danger
Tropical Storm Barry has made landfall in north-western Florida, bringing torrential rain and the risk of flooding there and in parts of Alabama and Georgia.

It remains a strong tropical storm, which has wind speeds of at least 40 mph (62 kmph), but it has failed to gain hurricane strength of 74 mph (120 kmph).


The main thing we're concerned with is the heavy rainfall... This may cause inland flooding, because the storm is moving so slowly

Meteorologist Trisha Wallace
Hurricane warnings were downgraded by the hurricane centre to a tropical storm warning early on Monday.

Forecasters expected Barry to steadily weaken as the storm hit land.

"The main thing we're concerned with is the heavy rainfall," said Trisha Wallace, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

"This may cause inland flooding, because the storm is moving so slowly."

Barry's path will take the storm north over southern Alabama during the day, she said.

Click here for map of affected area

Heavy rainfall of eight to 10 inches (20 cms to 25 cms) could be expected in northern Florida, southern Alabama and Georgia, while flooding was likely in portions of those areas, she added.

Isolated tornadoes were a possibility in north-western Florida.

Warnings

Florida Governor Jeb Bush urged people to be cautious and heed the warnings given.

A man wades through floodwater in Florida on 2 August
The storm has already caused flooding in Florida
"Barry remains a strong tropical storm that could cause serious damage," he said.

Nancy Retherford, a Florida Red Cross disaster relief worker, said traffic heading north seemed to get heavier late on Sunday.

"People are being smart. They are waiting until the evacuation recommendations are being made and they seem to be taking appropriate measures," she said.

Eight counties in north-western Florida have issued voluntary evacuation orders, while one county ordered a mandatory evacuation for three islands.

Preparations

Residents of the region laid sandbags over the weekend and Alabama emergency officials have been monitoring the storm's progress.

A number of oil companies with offshore platforms evacuated thousands of personnel.

Barry is the second named tropical storm of the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from the beginning of June through the end of November.

It has already dumped more than a foot of rain on Florida, causing flooding.

The storm forced the US space agency Nasa to delay a launch as it passed through southern Florida on the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

It had been heading towards Louisiana, but turned eastwards. The state is still expected to get high tides, showers and thunderstorms.

The city of New Orleans, which is below sea level, has closed 60 of its 72 floodgates.




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The BBC's Linda Duffin
"Flooding was expected to be the biggest threat from the storm"
See also:

19 Feb 00 | Washington 2000
Decades of major hurricanes ahead
17 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
Hurricanes set to grow fiercer
18 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Nature's lethal weapons
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