Tropical storm stalls in gulf just short of U.S. mainland

Tropical Storm Debby appears to be stalled in the Gulf of México not far from the Florida Panhandle.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that the cyclone was hit with a dose of dry air that eroded its strength and that a ridge of air is building along the southern United States that will keep the storm at bay, probably for two days.

Readers in western Florida reported tornadoes Sunday.

This is the first time four tropical storms have formed before July 1 during the Atlantic hurricane season since record keeping began in 1851, said the center.

Debby forced the suspension of eight percent of the region’s oil and gas production.

Officials said nine production platforms and one drilling rig were evacuated. The reduced production is not expected to impact oil prices unless the storm strengthens and forces more production platforms to close.

The storm still packs 60-mph winds, and there is a possibility that they may reach 70 mph in the next two days if conditions are right, said the center.

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