Weakened Nestor makes landfall in Florida, bringing heavy rains to Southeast

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Former Tropical Storm Nestor made landfall on a Florida’s St. Vincent Island Saturday afternoon and is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to parts of the Southeast, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm has pounded parts of the Florida Gulf Coast with heavy rain, strong winds and storm surges, and spawned tornadoes in the Tampa Bay area.

At 5 p.m. ET, Nestor’s winds were 40 mph, down from maximum sustained winds of 60 mph Friday evening. The storm was downgraded by the hurricane center to a post-tropical cyclone earlier on Saturday. All storm surge warnings have been discontinued by the hurricane center as the storm moves inland.

After quickly moving over the Florida Panhandle Saturday afternoon, the storm is forecast to move across portions of south Georgia and South Carolina later Saturday and Sunday.

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Tornado watch issued

There’s a possibility of tornadoes in parts of Florida and coastal Georgia early Saturday morning, and Saturday night and into Sunday morning across the coastal Carolinas, the hurricane center said in its latest update.

One tornado has already caused a tractor trailer “to overturn” onto another vehicle on Interstate 4 in Polk County, according to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

Debris from the impact then struck two other cars, both those vehicles were able to come to a “controlled stop,” a FHP press release said.

Westbound I-4 lanes were closed following the accident at 11 p.m. ET Friday and reopened at 1:30 a.m. Saturday. No injuries were reported, the release said.

Gale-force winds are expected to begin along portions of the southeastern Atlantic Coast later Saturday, the center said.

The storm is expected to dump 1 to 3 inches of rain over the weekend, according to the center. The center said earlier Saturday that rainfall of 2 to 4 inches was expected, with isolated totals of 8 inches possible.

The rain could be good news for inland residents who endured a dry and hot September. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi all had their driest September on record.

Many areas across the region have experienced a flash drought due to the prolonged heat and dry conditions. Areas that weren’t in any type of drought in August are now in severe to extreme drought.

The storm is forecast to move off the coast of North Carolina and into the Atlantic by late Sunday, the center said.

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