Tropical Storm Keith blustered ashore Wednesday, spawning tornadoes, flooding streets, knocking down power lines and forcing more than 600 people to evacuate, including residents of a nursing home.
A Pacific storm, meanwhile, pummeled Oregon with 75 mph winds and unleashed nearly 4 inches of rain Tuesday. Florida residents and tourists generally dismissed Keith's 65 mph gusts and heavy rains as a nuisance, not a danger."We're treating it like a bad thunderstorm," said George Miller, manager of the Best Western Sea Wake Inn in Clearwater Beach.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables said Keith's center made landfall shortly after 1 a.m. near Sarasota, about 50 miles south of Tampa.
Space Shuttle Atlantis remained on the launch pad awaiting an early December liftoff. Workers sealed exposed areas near the engine to prevent rain damage and retracted the elevator access arm to protect shuttle tiles if the craft begins to shake, said George Diller, a Kennedy Space Center spokesman. The shuttle can easily withstand the storm's wind and rain, he said.
At 11 a.m., the storm was about 40 miles off Cape Canaveral, moving east-northeast at 15-20 mph. Most winds over the mainland had dropped below 40 mph.
The storm dumped 5 inches of rain or more in Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach and brought tides 4 to 6 feet above normal.
"It appears at the moment that Sarasota may have experienced the most substantial damange," said Dick Morgan, spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management. "There appears to be considerable road damage."