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Tropical Storm Frances heading for Florida panhandleTropical Storm Frances heading for Florida panhandle

Tropical Storm Frances heading for Florida panhandle

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Tropical Storm Frances at 11:15 a.m., Sept. 6

By late Monday morning, Frances had moved out into the Gulf of Mexico after pounding central and southern Florida. More than 13 inches of rain fell in some areas, with floods some four feet deep.

Frances is now a tropical storm, but it might pick up energy over the warm gulf waters and become a hurricane again before hitting the panhandle and Georgia and Alabama.

The FAA has issued a notam for Florida, urging pilots to avoid flight below 2,500 feet in "common knowledge disaster areas" so as to avoid interfering with helicopters aiding in relief efforts.

Airports across central and southern Florida are starting to reopen, but some airports in the panhandle, including Tallahassee, are closed in anticipation of Frances hitting later today.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Robert Wood at Sebring Regional Airport (SEF) reports, "The center of circulation of Hurricane Frances passed about eight miles north of KSEF. We had a full blast of northern, western, and southern winds over a 24-hour period.

"The airport sustained only minor, cosmetic damage. The new terminal has a bit of roof damage, though not significant. Other than that, it appears that only a couple of older World War II non-used buildings lost some roofing." There was no reported damage to aircraft or hangars.

Bob Johnston, ASN volunteer at Lantana Airport (LNA), said, "LNA airport was virtually spared of structural damage. Aircraft tied down outside were spared, even with 90 mph+ winds from north to west."

Florida Today reports that Melbourne International Airport (MLB) reopened to emergency traffic today. The most severe damage at MLB was located on the north side of the property, where high winds damaged several general aviation hangars and ripped siding from the air traffic-control tower.

Update: September 6, 2004

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