Carrying fierce winds and rain, Tropical Storm Debby continued to lash Florida on Monday, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency.
In a proclamation emailed to reporters, Scott said the storm threatens Florida with a major disaster and that its effects have already been felt in the state. The declaration means that the state can suspend some laws to deal with the emergency and that agencies can cooperate more easily with the federal government.
According to the declaration, Debby is about 90 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Fla. It's carrying winds of about 50 miles an hour.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm is moving very slowly, at less than 5 miles an hour. The heavy rains and slow movement are a deadly combination, making flooding in low-lying areas a likelihood.
Officials are predicting as much as 25 inches of rain in forthcoming days in parts of Florida.
The storm has already been blamed for at least one death in Florida, from a tornado that spun off from the system. In Alabama, officials are looking for a second fatality, a person believed killed on Sunday in high surf.
Officials have ordered some evacuations in the Tampa area, where the storm is expected to move through in the next few days.
Sea level in Atlantic 'hot spot' rising faster than world's
In Arizona, cheers and disillusionment follow immigration ruling
Jerry Sandusky letter to abuse victim: 'There has been love in my heart'