MIAMI (AP) — The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season got a little stronger early Thursday as it headed toward Florida’s western coast and a new tropical storm warning was issued for a swath of the U.S. East Coast.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for a large section of Florida’s west coast from Boca Grande to Indian Pass and for the East Coast from Flagler Beach, Fla., all the way to Cape Charles Light in Virginia.
Tropical Storm Andrea‘s maximum sustained winds increased to near 60 mph (95 kph) and the storm was expected to make landfall in Florida’s Big Bend area Thursday afternoon before moving across southeastern Georgia and the Carolinas. It was not expected to strengthen into a hurricane.
“The rain covers a good portion of the Florida peninsula even though the center is a couple of hundred miles off shore,” said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Storm surge would be the biggest threat as the storm comes onshore, Blake said. The Hurricane Center expects a storm surge of 2 to 4 feet “near and to the south” of where the center makes landfall.
He added that flash flooding was a concern, with 3 to 6 inches of rain expected. Isolated areas in Florida and southeastern Georgia could get 8 inches of rain.