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Tropical Storm Debby swamping Florida with heavy rains (+video)

The tropical storm system is nearly stationary over the Gulf of Mexico, producing torrential rainfall and some reported tornadoes.

Heavy rain and surf pound Florida Panhandle and northern Florida.
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Tropical Storm Debby spun drenching rains Monday over northern Florida as it hung nearly stationary over the Gulf of Mexico, making its biggest threat flooding rather than winds.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect along the Florida Panhandle as the storm parked offshore. Yet even with the storm's center far from land, it lashed Florida with heavy rains and spawned isolated tornadoes that killed at least one person.

And in Alabama, crews planned to continue searching for a South Carolina man who disappeared in rough surf Sunday afternoon. The man, whose name and hometown were not immediately released, was vacationing with his family when he went underwater around 1:45 p.m. Sunday, said Melvin Shepherd, director of beach safety for Orange Beach, Ala.

The storm also prompted the closing of a bridge to St. George Island, a popular vacation island in Florida.

Residents in several counties near the crook of Florida's elbow were urged to leave low-lying neighborhoods because of the threat of flooding. High winds forced the closure of an interstate bridge that spans Tampa Bay and links St. Petersburg with areas to the southeast. In several locations, homes and businesses were damaged by high winds authorities believe were from tornadoes.

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