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Tropical Storm Debby churns in the Gulf of Mexico

Tropical Storm Debby has put states from Florida to Texas on watch for heavy rains and flooding.

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Karen Pennland and walks in the rain and wind from Tropical Storm Fay August 19, 2008 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Tropical Storm Debby has Florida, Alabama and Louisiana on storm watch as it lashed the Gulf coast with heavy winds and rain Sunday. (Stephen Morton/AFP/Getty Images)

Tropical Storm Debby was approaching the Gulf Coast on Sunday, as states from Florida to Texas braced themselves for heavy winds, rainfall and flooding, the Associated Press reported

As of 1 p.m. Eastern Time, the storm was about 200 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center reported Sunday. Forecasters said Tropical Storm Debby was causing high winds and torrential rain along portions of the northeast Gulf Coast as it made its way on its offshore trajectory Sunday, CNN reported.

Debby is moving slowly northeast at around 6 miles per hour, and is expected to turn towards the northwest later Sunday night or Monday, according to WFMY News

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Louisiana's low-lying coastal regions are currently under a tropical storm warning, and warnings were also issued for coastal Alabama and parts of Florida, including the Panhandle, according to the AP. 

Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency Sunday because of "the imminent threat" of heavy rainfall and flooding, CNN reported. Jindal left GOP candidate Mitt Romney's weekend retreat in Park City, Utah, early to return to Louisiana, according to CNN. 

A tornado linked to the storm touched down in southwest Florida Saturday, and another was reported in Venice, the AP reported. No one was injured. 

"This is quite common with this type of storm," said senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart with the National Hurricane Center, according to the AP. "They (the tornadoes) tend to not be very large or long-lived, which can be difficult to detect on radar. So people need to keep an eye on the sky."

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Hurricane season in the United States began on June 1st, and Debby is the fourth named storm of the season so far, along with Alberto (which technically touched down before the season May 19), Beryl and Chris, the Boston Globe reported

"Debby, at this point, doesn't look to become a major storm," wrote the Boston Globe's meteorologist David Epstein. "The computer models are having a very difficult time forecasting where the storm will end up. The latest track official takes the storm towards southern Texas later this week. I expect this track to change several times before this storm hits the mainland, if it ever does." 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120624/tropical-storm-debby-gulf-mexico