Tropical Storm Andrea nears Florida’s west coast
MIAMI (AP) — The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, Andrea, formed Wednesday over the Gulf of Mexico and was expected to bring wet weather to parts of Florida’s west coast over the next few days.
Forecasters issued a tropical storm warning for a swath of Florida’s west coast starting at Boca Grande, an island to the northwest of Fort Myers, and ending in the Big Bend area of the state.
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 didn’t require medical treatment.
Tropical Storm Andrea (AN’-dree-ah) had maximum sustained winds near 45 mph (72 kph) as of 2 a.m. Thursday, and winds were forecast to move northward. It was located about 240 miles (385 kilometers) southwest of Tampa. A tropical storm watch has been issued for most of northeast Florida and north to Surf City, N.C.
Andrea was moving to the north at about ten mph (17 kph) and forecasters expected the storm to continue moving northeast at a faster speed overnight and on Thursday.
The center of Andrea was expected to reach the Big Bend area of Florida’s coast this afternoon, then move across southeastern Georgia, bypassing Atlanta, and over southeastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina.
Forecasters say Andrea could bring three to six inches of rain to the Florida Panhandle and southeastern Georgia, with isolated areas seeing as much as eight inches.