- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tropical Storm Tammy churned off the north Florida coast yesterday, packing wind of 45 mph, dumping heavy rain in spots and cranking out waves up to 4 feet high, forecasters said.

A tropical storm warning was issued from Flagler Beach, north of Daytona Beach, to South Carolina’s Santee River. The warning means tropical storm conditions were expected within 24 hours.

“Tammy is a minimal tropical storm,” said Steve Letro, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Jacksonville.

Tammy was centered about 20 miles northeast of Daytona Beach at 2 p.m. and was moving north-northwest at 14 mph. It was expected to continue moving parallel to Florida’s east coast while gradually slowing its forward motion.

Lifeguard Jesse Broemer at Jacksonville Beach said the beach was virtually empty, with heavy bands of rain and churning waves. One or two surfers tried to brave 3- to 4-foot waves, “but they couldn’t make it out there,” he said.

Robbie Berg, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said because Tammy will spend so little time over water, it is unlikely that it will reach hurricane strength of 74 mph. He said it is hard to forecast where Tammy will make landfall because “one slight variation in its track could bring it onshore.”

Seven hurricanes have brushed past or hit Florida in the past 14 months, including three this year.

Tourists and business people are canceling reservations with the approach of the storm, said Eric Fort, general manager of the Sea Walk Hotel. He estimated business is off 75 percent from this time last year because of a triple whammy from the economy, gas prices and fear of the storm.

“It has a lot to do with Katrina,” he said. Hurricane Katrina struck South Florida as a Category 1 storm on Aug. 25, four days before it devastated Louisiana and Mississippi as a Category 4.

Tammy is the 19th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. This season is tied for the second busiest since record keeping started in 1851; 19 storms also formed in 1995 and 1887. The record for tropical storms and hurricanes in one year is 21, set in 1933.

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