Tropical Storm Alex, Season 1, Forms in the Gulf of Mexico

MIAMI – Tropical Storm Alex, the first-named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, formed on a track Sunday morning in the Gulf of Mexico to make landfall in southern Florida with heavy rainfall and gusty winds.

Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center said in a 5 a.m. advisory that Alex had picked up 80 mph winds and was about 270 miles (435 kilometers) northeast of Fort Pierce, Florida.

Parts of South Florida experienced flooding on Saturday due to heavy rain and wind. Miami officials warned drivers about the road condition, as many cars were stuck on flooded streets.

“This is a dangerous and life-threatening situation. Traveling under these conditions is not recommended. Better to wait. Turn around, don’t drown’, the city of Miami tweeted

The city dragged stranded vehicles from flooded roads.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the storm has tested the system of drainage pumps the city recently installed as climate change has increasingly made flooding a problem in the low-lying area.

“We drained the water quite quickly, but of course in some areas it was quite a challenge,” Gelber said. “In some streets there were some difficulties to get through, one of the main arteries was impassable, but in general the water flows away.”

Alex is a new version of the storm called Hurricane Agatha when it slammed into Mexico’s Pacific coast earlier this week, killing at least 11 people and leaving 20 missing. It was given a new name when the storm crossed Mexico into the Atlantic basin.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Bermuda.

In Cuba, authorities say three people have died, dozens of houses in Havana have been damaged and electricity has been cut in some areas. Heavy rains continued on Saturday but eased as the weather system moved away from the island.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said most government services, such as bus routes and trains, will continue to operate normally this weekend. Canal levels in South Florida have been lowered to minimize flooding from heavy rainfall.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially started on Tuesday. This is an unusually early start to the storm season, but not unprecedented for Florida.

The National Hurricane Center predicted that rain of up to 10 inches could fall in South Florida, including the Florida Keys. The storm was not expected to cause massive winds or major storm surges. But local floods were likely.

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