MIAMI (CBSDC/AP) — The first named storm of the Atlantic season hammered Florida with rain, heavy winds, and tornadoes Thursday as it moved toward the East Coast, 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 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 within the warning area within a day and a half.
The National Weather Service also has issued a flash flood watch through Friday evening for much of the D.C. metro area, including Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties in Virginia; and the District of Columbia.
Heavy rains from Andrea could bring 2 to 4 inches of rain to the D.C. metro area, according to the NWS, with isolated areas east and south of the District receiving up to 6 inches of rain. Excessive runoff from heavy rains may lead to flash flooding of low-lying areas and small streams.
The heaviest rains are expected between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Andrea was centered about 80 miles southeast of Tallahassee, Fla., close to making landfall in Florida’s Big Bend area. The storm was moving northeast about 17 mph, and its maximum sustained winds had increased to near 65 mph.
Rains and winds from the storm were forecast to sweep northward along the Southeastern U.S. coast Thursday night and Friday. 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.
“This one fortunately is a fast-moving storm,” he said. Slower-moving storms can pose a greater flood risk because they have more time to linger and dump rain.
Temperatures in the D.C. area are expected to be in the upper 70s Friday. Andrea should move out of the D.C. area overnight Friday, giving way to a partly sunny Saturday with temperatures in the lower 80s.
The storm is expected to hug the coastline, bringing rain as far as southern New England through the weekend.
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