Florida’s western Panhandle, the one area of the state spared the impact of Hurricane Irma nearly a month ago, is expected to get winds, surging water and rain this weekend from fast-moving Tropical Storm Nate.
Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday declared a state of emergency in 29 Florida counties as Tropical Storm Nate seems headed for the state. Scott issued Executive Order 17-262 declaring a state of emergency in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Baker, Union, Bradford, and Alachua counties.
Tropical Depression 16 is expected to intensify into a tropical storm within 24 hours while traveling north into the Gulf of Mexico. A forecast cone from the National Hurricane Center projected the storm will make landfall as a hurricane this weekend somewhere between New Orleans and Tampa Bay, with the Florida Panhandle as the center point.