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Florida boaters, businesses brace for hurricane

Marine businesses and boaters in Florida are gearing up for their first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The National Hurricane Center reported this morning that Tropical Storm Fay is strengthening as it approaches the southern tip of Florida.

At 8 a.m., the center of storm was located over the northern coast of Western Cuba, about 80 miles east of Havana and 100 miles south-southeast of Key West, Fla. The storm is moving toward the north-northwest at 12 mph. This motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours, with a turn to the north expected Tuesday.

The center of Fay should be emerging into the Florida Straits during the next few hours, the National Hurricane Center reported this morning, and nearing the Florida Keys tonight.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicated maximum sustained winds near 60 mph, with higher gusts. Some strengthening is expected as the storm moves over water. Fay is forecast to approach hurricane strength in the Florida Keys and become a hurricane before it reaches the Florida peninsula. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward 105 miles from the center.

Heavy rains are expected to spread across South Florida today, with totals of 4 to 8 inches possible. Tides of 2 to 4 feet above normal are possible in the Keys, and isolated tornados are possible today over the Keys and the southern Florida peninsula.

Fay is the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

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