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Tropical Storm Don in Gulf of Mexico

Editor's Note: As of 4 p.m. EDT, the storm system has further organized and intensified into tropical storm Don, with the current forecast track projecting landfall in southern Texas.  The National Hurricane Center website has the latest information, and we will continue to provide updates on this blog about our role.

A wave of tropical thunderstorms is currently developing near the Yucatan Channel, between the coasts of Cuba and Mexico. According to the National Hurricane Center, this system is continuing to become better organized and if current trends continue, could become a tropical depression in the next 48 hours. We’re closely monitoring the situation through our regional offices in Denton, Texas and Atlanta, Ga., while coordinating with our partners at the National Hurricane Center forecast offices.

Although it is too soon to know how quickly this storm could develop and what its potential impact may be on the U.S., current forecast models do show that the storm could impact parts of Mexico and southern Texas. Since before the start of hurricane season, we’ve been encouraging residents in hurricane-prone areas to get prepared, whether you live on the coast or further inland. History has taught us that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly – and it’s critical that all members of the public areas get prepared.

If you haven't already, now is a good time to visit http://www.ready.gov/ and learn a few simple steps every family should take to get prepared before disaster strikes. And remember when it comes to hurricanes and tropical storms, listen to the direction of local officials. Be sure to know your evacuation route in case evacuation orders are given.

You can also visit http://www.hurricanes.gov/ or http://hurricanes.gov/mobile on your phone for the latest forecasts for severe tropical weather. If you’re on Twitter and Facebook, you can follow the latest updates from the National Hurricane Center for the Atlantic basin at twitter.com/NHC_Atlantic and www.facebook.com/US.NOAA.NationalHurricaneCenter.gov.

Cyclone Wilma Update: American Samoa response

We've been closely monitoring Tropical Cyclone Wilma, which passed over American Samoa on Sunday. According to the National Weather Service, a Wind Advisory remains in effect, today, for Tutuila, Aunuu and Manua. A wind advisory means winds of 30 mph or higher are expected.  Occasional showers and isolated thunderstorms are forecast through tonight, and scattered showers are expected through Saturday.

A single shelter remains open on the island and local response agencies, including the American Red Cross, are addressing immediate needs.  No significant damage or casualties have been reported.

A FEMA liaison officer has been deployed to support coordination at the American Samoa Emergency Operations Center in Pago Pago, and FEMA staff in our region IX office in Oakland, California and our Pacific Area Office in Honolulu, are also in constant communication with territorial officials.  Although there has been no request for federal disaster assistance yet, we have teams ready to deploy with help if needed.  FEMA has more than a dozen recovery staff on-island for post Tsunami rebuild, and they are another asset available should that become necessary.

As American Samoa begins to assess damages and starts the process of recovery from Wilma it is an important reminder that tropical storms aren’t limited to hurricane season. Tropical storms and other types of severe weather can occur year-round.  FEMA encourages individuals to do your part to be prepared. If you haven’t already, visit www.Ready.gov and learn how you can protect your homes, families and communities from severe storms and other hazards.

For local updates of the storm on Twitter, follow the National Parks Service of American Samoa.

Tracking Tropical Cyclone Wilma

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been closely monitoring Tropical Cyclone Wilma, which developed in the Pacific over the weekend and is intensifying as it forecasted to pass over American Samoa this evening. According to the National Weather Service, Wilma currently has sustained winds of up to 60 miles per hour and is forecasted to reach hurricane strength as it approaches the islands. A storm warning, flash flood watch and high surf warnings are all in effect for American Samoa, and a hurricane warning has been issued for the islands of Tutuila and Aunuu.

FEMA staff in our region IX office in Oakland, California and our Pacific Area Office in Honolulu, are in constant communication  with the American Samoa Emergency Operations Center in Pago Pago.  Although there has been no request for federal assistance yet, we have aircraft on standby and teams ready to deploy with help if needed.

We urge all individuals in the region to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for updates and directions provided by their local officials.  For those of you on Twitter, you can follow #Samoa and #cyclonewilma for updates on the storm, and as always, you can follow both Administrator Fugate @craigatfema and @FEMA for the latest information.

As we continue to track the storm and support local officials as they prepare for landfall Wilma it is an important reminder that tropical storms aren’t limited to hurricane season. Tropical storms and other types of severe weather can occur year-round.  FEMA encourages individuals to do your part to be prepared. If you haven’t already, visit www.ready.gov and learn how you can protect your homes, families and communities from severe storms and other hazards.

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