The first named storm of the Atlantic season hammered Florida with rain, heavy winds and tornadoes Thursday as it moved over land toward the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas, promising sloppy commutes and waterlogged vacation getaways through the beginning of the weekend.
Tropical Storm Andrea was not expected to strengthen into a hurricane, but forecasters warned it could cause isolated flooding and storm surge before it loses steam over the next two days.
Tropical-storm warnings were in effect for a large section of Florida’s west coast from Boca Grande to the Steinhatchee River and for the East Coast from Flagler Beach, Fla., all the way to Cape Charles Light in Virginia, and the lower Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort. A tropical- storm warning means that tropical-storm conditions are expected somewhere inside the warning area within a day and a half.
As of 8 p.m. Thursday, Andrea was about 45 miles west of Gainesville, after making landfall hours earlier in Florida’s Big Bend area. Its maximum sustained winds had fallen to 50 mph, and it was moving northeast at 15 mph.
Rains and winds from the storm were forecast to sweep northward along the southeastern U.S. coast Thursday night and today. The storm was expected to lose steam by Saturday as it moves through the eastern United States, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said one of the biggest risks associated with the storm for Florida was the chance of tornadoes, eight of which had been confirmed Thursday across the state. Scott urged residents to remain vigilant.