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Tropical storm forms as hurricane season opens

Story Highlights

• Tropical storm forms on day one of Atlantic hurricane season
• Storm expected to dump rain on Florida, Georgia
• FEMA official says people aren't doing enough to prepare
• NOAA expects 13 to 17 named storms before the end of 2007
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Tropical Storm Barry formed in the Gulf of Mexico and set sail for Florida on Friday -- the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Barry is the second named storm of the year, after Subtropical Storm Andrea made its debut May 9.

In its 11 p.m. ET advisory, the NHC said that Barry had sustained winds of about 50 mph, and the storm was about 270 miles southwest of Tampa and about 195 west of Key West.

It had been drifting northward for the last several hours, the center said, and was expected to begin a north-northeastward movement at about 9 mph as the night wore on.

CNN meteorologist Bonnie Schneider said the storm would dump much-needed rain on Florida and southeastern Georgia as it crossed the peninsula and headed toward the Atlantic Ocean.

The NHC issued a tropical storm warning for the west coast of the Sunshine State from Bonita Beach to Keaton Beach, and a tropical storm watch from Keaton Beach to St. Marks.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected in the next 24 hours. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible, generally within 36 hours.

FEMA administrator says people aren't prepared

As hurricane season begins, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency expressed concern that residents in vulnerable states are not taking the appropriate precautions.

"The people in the coastal states still seem not to be taking it seriously," FEMA Administrator David Paulison said Friday.

Many people in the areas most likely to be hit by hurricanes, he said, are not stocking up on food, water and other essentials. While FEMA has supplies in certain regions for use in disasters, he said, Americans need to realize it could take a few days for responders to reach them in a serious storm.

Paulison made the comments during a teleconference to discuss hurricane preparations with officials from a number of key states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Representatives from the NHC, the Army Corps of Engineers and Northern Command also participated in the briefing.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted an active season, with 13 to 17 named storms in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic before the end of 2007. Of those, it said, seven to 10 are likely to be strong enough to develop into hurricanes.

FEMA was severely criticized for its response during and after Hurricane Katrina two years ago. Paulison said the agency and the states have made much progress since that time, improving communications and organizing supplies in the Gulf and Atlantic state areas to be ready to deploy quickly in emergencies.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Barbara headed toward the southeastern coast of Mexico with 50 mph sustained winds. In the NHC's 11 p.m. ET advisory, the storm was about 215 miles southeast of Salina Cruz, Mexico, moving east-northeast at 8 mph.

A tropical storm warning was in effect from Sipacate, Guatemala, to Barra de Tonala, Mexico. A tropical storm watch was in effect from Barra de Tonala to Salina Cruz.

The hurricane center warned of potential flash floods and mudslides caused by torrential rains from the storm.


Tropical Storm Barry, visible in a 5:15 p.m ET satellite image, formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday.

Tropical Storm Barry, visible in a 5:15 p.m ET satellite image, formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday.

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