Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, formed on a track in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday morningwith heavy rain and gusty winds.
Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center said in a 5 a.m. warning that Alex had winds of 50 mph and was about 270 miles northeast of Fort Pierce, Fla.
Parts of South Florida experienced street flooding from heavy rain and winds on Saturday. Miami officials warned drivers about road conditions as many cars became stuck on flooded roads.
“This is a dangerous and life-threatening situation. Traveling in these conditions is not recommended. It’s better to wait. Turn over, don’t drown,” according to the City of Miami tweeted.
The city towed stranded vehicles from flood lanes.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the storm tested the system of drainage pumps the city recently installed, as climate change has made flooding a growing problem in the low-lying area.
“We moved the water away pretty quickly, but of course it was really challenging in some areas,” said Gelber. “There were some passage problems on some roads, one of the main arteries was impassable, but by and large the water is evaporating.”
Alex is a new version of the storm that was named Hurricane Agatha when it hit Mexico’s Pacific coast earlier this week, killing at least 11 and missing 20. It got a new name when the storm crossed Mexico into the Atlantic basin.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for Bermuda.
In Cuba, the storm killed three people, damaged dozens of homes in Havana and cut power in some areas, according to authorities. Heavy rains continued on Saturday but eased as the weather system moved away from the island.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said most government services, like bus routes and trains, plan to operate normally over the weekend. South Florida canal levels have been lowered to minimize flooding from heavy rains.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on Tuesday. This is an unusually early start to the storm season, but not unprecedented for Florida.
The National Hurricane Center forecast rains of up to 10 inches across south Florida, including the Florida Keys. The storm was not expected to generate high winds or large storm surges. But local flooding was likely.