The forecast track of Tropical Storm Andrea shows it moving up the East Coast over the next few days.(Photo: National Hurricane Center)
The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season made landfall late Thursday afternoon along the Big Bend of Florida about 10 miles south of Steinhatchee, the National Hurricane Center reported. It continued to bring drenching rain to much of the state, along with the threat of tornadoes.
As of 5:45 p.m. ET, Tropical Storm Andrea had winds of 65 mph and was moving to the northeast at 17 mph.
The storm should weaken after landfall, the hurricane center reported.
What remains of Andrea will continue to move north up the East Coast Friday and Saturday. Locally heavy rain, brief gusty winds and a flooding risk are all possible from the Southeast coast to New England, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
The National Weather Service has issued flood watches all the way from Georgia to Maine.
Disruptive downpours could occur Friday around Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Hartford, Providence, and Portland, Maine.
Indications are that most locations in this swath will be in for a 2- to 4-inch rainfall, but locally heavier amounts are possible, Sosnowski reports.
Andrea is not forecast to strengthen into a hurricane.
The storm spawned at least seven tornadoes Thursday in Florida, says severe storm expert Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel. A tornado watch remained in effect for much of Florida late Thursday.
The city of Zephyrhills, Fla., about 30 miles northwest of Tampa, may have been basking in the winning $590 million Powerball ticket purchased at one of its stores, but it was drenched Thursday afternoon by off-and-on rain squalls from Andrea. Still nobody was too worried. "In Florida, it's very common to have tropical storm warnings and watches," said City Manager Jim Drumm.
"We'll probably see some low-level flooding, and we'll probably get some high winds," Drumm said. "But we're probably the furthest inland city in Pasco County. We won't see the difficulty that the coastal surge can make."
Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for a large section of Florida's west coast and for the East Coast from Flagler Beach, Fla., all the way to Cape Charles Light in Virginia.
The system has already produced drenching rain in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and in western Cuba, according to the hurricane center. Influences from Andrea have contributed to the 13.9 inches of rain that Bahia Honda, Cuba, has received since Monday, AccuWeather says.
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Doyle Rice, USA TODAY