Tropical Storm

National Weather Service rain and temperature predictions for Saturday.

The Atlantic hurricane season is underway with the potential for a tropical storm targeting Florida from the tip of Mexico and making Florida landfall early Saturday.

The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for the southern portion of Florida predicting the storm to hit Florida in the Naples area, sweep across Florida, and enter the Atlantic along West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

Agency meteorologist Ernie Jillson told the Chronicle that the storm has the potential to become a tropical storm given enough wind speed. Jillson also said that the National Weather Service weather planes still have not identified the center of the storm, which would help in tracking.

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When a tropical cyclone has wind speeds that strengthen to 39 mph, the cyclone becomes a tropical storm and named. When the winds exceed 74 mph, the storm becomes a hurricane.

Meanwhile, Jillson said Citrus County will not be affected much by the potential tropical storm unless it breaks more north. It will leave Florida late Saturday morning, he said.

Citrus County is still expected to see 15 mph-20 mph winds and about half an inch of rain, according to Jillson.

If the storm stays on course, and doesn’t significantly impact Citrus County, “it is still helping to feed more moisture into the atmosphere (here),” Jillson said.

At this point there’s nothing to suggest it will change course, he said, but the course is still a little difficult to predict because the National Weather Service hasn’t found a center.

“(Meteorologists) have trouble tracking something that isn’t really there yet,” Jillson said.

According to the national Weather website, the storm will hit Florida with about 40 mph winds. There may be flooding in the Florida Keys.

But for the storm to effect Citrus County, it would need to move toward the Tampa area, Jillson said.

Citrus County will have a 40 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms Saturday.

Although the storm will have little effect on us here, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences urges county residents prepare now for hurricane season, if they have not already.

IFAS, a combined federal, state, and county agency, provides a website with hurricane preparedness tips. The website is: https:// disaster.ifas.ufl.edu/health-home--pets-/

The website discusses how to make a disaster preparedness kit that includes such things as bug spray and sun screen, hand sanitizer, blankets and pillows.

The website also includes information about making sure family members communicate and make agreements about where to meet before or after a hurricane hits, who will pick up children from school, and creating information cards with contact telephone numbers and addresses.

The website also provides helpful information about how people can replace lost documents after a storm, such as Florida and out-of-state birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates.

Fred Hiers is a reporter at the Citrus Chronicle. E-mail him at fred.hiers@chronicleonline.com