The first major storm of the Atlantic hurricane season strengthened gradually Thursday
as it moved closer to making landfall on Florida’s west coast. Though the storm is not expected
to develop into a full-fledged hurricane, many U.S. residents in Florida and elsewhere along the
Tropical Storm Andrea – which as of 11 a.m. ET on Thursday had sustained winds of
around 60mph (95kph) and was moving northeast at 15mph (24kph) – is not expected to make
landfall around Florida’s Big Bend area till sometime Thursday afternoon.
However, the storm has still brought an immense amount of wind and rain to Florida’s
western coast, where according the National Hurricane Center, tropical storm conditions are
already being experienced.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect for much of Florida’s west coast and along the U.S.
East Coast up to Cape Charles Light, Virginia as well – where the storm is projected to reach
sometime Friday afternoon.
Much of the concern surrounding the storm centers on the flooding that is expected
from the heavy rainfall, which is projected to reach 3 to 6 inches in and around the Florida area
according to the National Hurricane Center. Also, some isolated areas in Florida as well as parts
of southeastern Georgia could receive up to 8 inches of rain – heightening the concern for flash
Additionally, much of the Florida coast is preparing for any residual flooding that could
result from the storm surge which is predicted to reach 2 to 4 feet “near and to the south” of
where the center of the storm makes landfall according to the National Hurricane Center.
Still, though flooding remains the main concern, residents along Florida’s western coast
need also be wary of the storm’s potential to spawn tornadoes.
Such concern has been heightened in recent weeks as violent systems have plagued
large areas in the southern and mid-western portions of the United States – most notably in
Moore, Oklahoma where only two weeks ago an EF5 tornado touched down and killed 23
people while injuring hundreds of others.
According to Weather Channel severe storm expert Greg Forbes, the storm had already
spawned six known tornadoes by Thursday morning. Much of the state of Florida as well as
parts of southeastern Georgia will remain at a slight risk of tornado or severe thunderstorm
Thursday and into Thursday night according to the U.S. National Weather Service.
As Andrea moves east along the United States coastline Friday and into the weekend it
is expected to bring a good deal of wind and rain as far north as New York and even into the
New England region where rainfall totals are projected to be close to five inches for parts of
Long Island, NY and much of Connecticut according to the National Weather Service.
Parts of Rhode Island and Long Island, NY, as well as large parts of southeastern
Massachusetts could also experience storm surges of up to two feet or more.