Rick Scott's office announced the Republican governor is traveling to Tampa this afternoon for briefings on storm preparation, while a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to strengthen and make landfall along Florida's west coast in the next 48 hours.
Scott will monitor the storm from the Emergency Operations Center in Tampa and hold a press conference at 5 p.m.
"Florida families on the Gulf Coast and in the Tampa Bay area need to prepare for five to 10 inches of heavy rainfall as well as potential tornadoes," Scott said said in a statement. "Floridians should always remember to never drive on flooded roadways, seek shelter in the event of severe weather and always have a plan in place to keep your family safe."
To reduce the chance of Zika virus spreading, Scott also advises homeowners to dump standing water, which can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Officials elevated the status of the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee to Level Two this morning in preparation for the storm, currently called Tropical Depression 9. Level Two means the activation of mission-specific emergency support and planning functions.
The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will strengthen to tropical storm status today -- with the potential to produce coastal and inland flooding, storm surge, rip currents and strong winds. It's expected to reach Florida's coast by Thursday.
"Whether this is your first tropical storm or you’re a seasoned veteran of past hurricanes, you need to take this storm seriously and be prepared for the very real threats it could produce," advised Bryan Koon, director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management.
Photo credit: AP