Jerry Drenches Florida as Parade of Storms Continues
COCOA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Tourists abandoned beaches and people watched the rain helplessly Thursday as Tropical Storm Jerry drenched much of Florida on the third anniversary of the costliest U.S. hurricane.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Humberto, with 105 mph winds, and Tropical Storm Iris, with 65 mph winds, were pushing their way across the Atlantic toward the Caribbean.
Iris had been a hurricane and was downgraded late Thursday when its winds dropped below 74 mph.
Cocoa Beach condo dweller Jim Leary took a walk on the beach before dawn and saw signs of little preparation before Jerry hit the Atlantic coast.
``All night, the wind was howling pretty badly,″ he said. ``Lawn furniture and a lot of things that weren’t tied down were blown away.″
Stacey Brown, a waitress at a Captiva Island restaurant facing the Gulf of Mexico, saw few customers.
``It’s miserable, it’s awful,″ she said. ``We don’t have any business.″
Jerry lost steam as it weakened to a tropical depression after making it nearly across the peninsula, but forecasters predicted it could build into a storm again over the Gulf of Mexico and strike North Florida.
Jerry dumped 10 1/4 inches of rain near Stuart, more than 8 1/2 inches on Sanibel Island and nearly 8 inches in West Palm Beach. It tore out a bridge in the Atlantic coast community of Palm City and caused isolated road flooding.
This is the busiest hurricane season by this date on record. There have been 10 named storms, two of which formed into hurricanes within 12 hours Wednesday. The last time two hurricanes formed on the same day was 1961.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect on the Gulf coast from Anclote Key northwest of Tampa to Pensacola, which saw sunshine in the eye of Hurricane Erin earlier this month.
On the Atlantic coast, the major impact appeared to be on vacationers who trusted the Sunshine State’s motto.
``You expect to at least get out on the beach. Instead, you go spend a lot more money in the shops,″ said Colin Bradie of London.
Three years ago Thursday, Hurricane Andrew inflicted $30 billion damage to a 200-square-mile area south of Miami.
Tracking three major storms at once kept hurricane forecasters busy:
_ Humberto was located about 1,075 miles east of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean. A gradual west-northwest turn was expected late Thursday, but Humberto wasn’t likely to strengthen. Its maximum sustained winds were about 105 mph.
_ Iris, slowly moving west ahead of Humberto, was centered about 250 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. Maximum sustained winds were about 65 mph, and little strengthening was expected Friday.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the two storms could intertwine. That phenomenon, called the Fujiwara effect, is common over the Pacific but a rarity in the Atlantic.
_ The remnants of Jerry, nearly stationary with winds near 35 mph, was centered about 135 miles east-southeast of Apalachicola.
Winds would have to reach 39 mph to regain the storm name, and state meteorologist Mike Rucker was confident it would. He predicted landfall near the Apalachicola area with 50-60 mph winds by Friday morning.