Tropical Storm Alex is marching east toward the middle Atlantic where it is expected to end its long, trans-oceanic journey.
The first official named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season formed 2 am Sunday after drenching South Florida and flooding much of the coastal area Saturday. What had been Potential Tropical Cyclone One had tropical-storm-force winds as it sped over Florida but didn’t have enough circulation to be a named system. Once the center of the storm made it into the Atlantic, it was able to organize itself and gain enough strength to receive a name.
Alex has sustained winds of 65 mph, moving east-northeast at 28 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 am update. Tropical-storm-force winds extend out 205 miles. Alex is 100 miles northwest of Bermuda but tropical storm conditions are being felt there. The area is expected to receive 2-3 inches of rain.
Meteorologists are expecting Alex’s long journey to end Wednesday in the middle Atlantic after it’s absorbed by an extratropical low system of pressure.
Alex was born out of the remnants of what had been the Pacific’s first named tropical system, Hurricane Agatha, that struck the Mexican west coast nearly a week ago, moved over land while disintegrating, and making a slow approach all week across the Gulf of Mexico .
Most of the rain that doused Florida on Saturday is still sloshing around the southeast quadrant of the system.
The system moved at a fair clip across Florida at 18 mph, its rains that began on Friday did the most damage overnight especially in flood-prone areas of Miami, leaving much of downtown and Little Havana under nearly a foot of water.
Other parts of the state, from Naples to the Treasure Coast, also hardened flooding with the NHC having warned there could be pockets that would experience up to 15 inches of rain in 24 hours.
Preliminary rain totals from the NWS Weather Prediction Center said Miami saw just over 11 inches of rain from 7 am Friday through 10 pm Saturday. In Broward County, Hollywood had just over 9 inches while Fort Lauderdale had more than 7 inches. In Palm Beach County, West Palm had 6.6 inches. On the Gulf Coast, Naples had close to 9 inches while Fort Myers had nearly 6.3 inches.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the storm tested the system of drainage pumps the city has recently installed as climate change has increasingly made flooding an issue in the low-lying area.
“We moved the water off pretty quickly, but in some areas, obviously, it was really challenging,” Gelber said. “There were some problems getting through on some streets, one of the main arteries was unpassable, but by and large water is dissipating.”
In Cuba, the storm killed three people, damaged dozens of homes in Havana and cut off electricity in some areas, according to authorities. Heavy rainfall continued Saturday, but it was diminishing as the weather system moved away from the island.
June 1 marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30. Forecasters expect another above-average year for tropical system production. Last year saw 21 named storms, and 2020 had a record-breaking 30 named systems.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.