Updated 11:10 a.m.
Governor Scott issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in 42 Florida counties in anticipation of Tropical Depression 9 this morning.
“Last night, hurricane and tropical storm watches were issued along Florida’s Gulf Coast from Pasco County to Gulf County. We also learned that the National Hurricane Center expects Tropical Depression Nine to become a Tropical Storm sometime today,” Scott said in a statement.
Scott will hold a briefing in several towns across the state today, including in Gainesville. The briefing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Alachua County Emergency Operations Center.
Tropical Depression 9 has the potential to reach hurricane strength before making landfall sometime later week, state officials said.
Scott warned that the storm could bring the potential of lightning, tornadoes, flooding and standing water that could heighten the risk of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been found across the state. He urged Floridians to take precautions and monitor developments. Eight thousand members of the Florida National Guard are ready to be deployed as well, according to state officials.
Updated: 10:09 a.m.
Governor Scott will hold a briefing on Tropical Depression 9 in several towns across the state today including Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Southport. The Gainesville briefing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Alachua County Emergency Operations Center.
Gainesville’s Public Works Department is ready to assist property owners with storm preparation and provide them with up to 10 sandbags per vehicle. Sandbags can be picked up at 405 Northwest 39th Avenue.
A hurricane watch was issued Tuesday by the National Hurricane Center for parts of Florida’s Gulf Coast, with people from northern Florida through the Carolinas advised to monitor the system. Earlier in the day, Gov. Rick Scott warned people on the Gulf Coast and in the Tampa Bay area to prepare for 5 to 10 inches of rain and potential tornadoes.
Also, the storm comes amid Florida’s efforts to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus. “We must also dump standing water around homes and businesses to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes since we are aggressively fighting the Zika virus in our state,” Scott said in a prepared statement. The Tuesday afternoon advisory from the National Hurricane Center is for the coast between the Anclote River, near Tarpon Springs, to Indian Pass, south of Port St. Joe in Gulf County.
A tropical-storm warning was also put in place from Indian Pass west to the Walton County-Bay County line. The system, which was a tropical depression as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, was about 345 miles west of Key West. A turn to the north-northeast was expected on Wednesday, with the center of the system expected to approach the coast on Thursday.
The hurricane center reported the system had not become better organized but advised caution. “Given that a couple of the models show the system becoming a hurricane, and the 48-hour forecast point implies tropical-storm-force winds near the coast, it is prudent to issue a hurricane watch for a portion of the northeast Gulf of Mexico coast at this time,” the center said in a 5 p.m. advisory.