Heavy rain was pouring across much of Florida overnight as the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season headed toward the state’s western coast and a new tropical storm warning was issued for a swath of the US east coast.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for a large section of Florida’s west coast from Boca Grande to Indian Pass and for the east coast from Flagler Beach, Florida, all the way to Cape Charles Light in Virginia.
Tropical Storm Andrea’s maximum sustained winds increased to near 100kph and the storm was expected to make landfall in Florida’s Big Bend area before moving across southeastern Georgia and the Carolinas. It was not expected to strengthen into a hurricane.
Storm surge would be the biggest threat as the storm comes onshore. The Hurricane Centre expects a storm surge of more than a metre near and to the south of where the centre makes landfall.
Flash flooding is a concern, with up to 150mm of rain expected. Isolated areas in Florida and southeastern Georgia could get 200mm of rain.
Already two tornados touched down with one in Myakka City and the other in Sun City Centre.
There were reports of downed tree branches and power lines and minor damage to the verandah on at least one home. There were no reports of injuries.There have also been reports of minor flooding in the area, including along Tampa’s Bayshore Drive.
Tornado warnings and watches could be issued throughout the day.
The storm was expected to hug the coastline, bringing rain as far as the southern New England area through the weekend.
Overnight (NZT)the storm was centered about 250kms west of Tampa and was moving north-northeast near 25kph.
In Florida, Gulf Islands National Seashore closed its campgrounds and the road that runs through the popular beach-front park Wednesday. The national seashore abuts Pensacola Beach and the park road frequently floods during heavy rains. On Pensacola Beach, condominium associations asked people to remove furniture on high balconies because of the expected high winds and beach lifeguards warned tourists of possible high surf.
In Alabama, authorities said that 13 people had to be rescued from rough surf kicked up by the storm on Wednesday at beaches in two coastal towns. Most of those rescued did not require medical treatment.
WW & CNN