Already, the National Weather Service in Tampa confirmed two tornados touched down early Thursday — one in Myakka City and the other in Sun City Center. Meteorologist Rodney Wynn said there were reports of downed tree limbs and power lines and minor damage to the porch on at least one home. There were no reports of injuries.
Wynn said there have also been reports of minor flooding in the area, including along Tampa’s Bayshore Drive.
Tornado warnings and watches could be issued throughout the day.
The storm was expected to hug the coastline, bringing rain as far as the southern New England area through the weekend.
As of about 5 a.m. EDT Thursday, the storm was centered about 220 miles (355 kilometers) west-southwest of Tampa and was moving north-northeast near 13 mph (20 kph).
In Florida, Gulf Islands National Seashore closed its campgrounds and the road that runs through the popular beach-front park Wednesday. The national seashore abuts Pensacola Beach and the park road frequently floods during heavy rains. On Pensacola Beach, condominium associations asked people to remove furniture on high balconies because of the expected high winds and beach lifeguards warned tourists of possible high surf.