(MCT) MIAMI — A stronger Tropical Storm Andrea soaked much of the state and spun off isolated small twisters Thursday as it headed for a landfall along Florida’s Big Bend.
The drenching outer bands of the first named storm of the season made for a miserable rush hour morning from Miami to Melbourne and put much of the state under a tornado watch. There were reports of waterspouts and tornadoes, including at least one that damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines in the western Palm Beach County community of The Acreage. Scattered power outages also were reported.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Andrea’s maximum sustained winds reached 60 mph but had probably peaked. The big threat remained rain, which could reach 6 inches along the Gulf Coast and in North Florida. Up to 5 feet of storm surge also could cause flooding in some coastal communities, especially south of the projected landfall.
From there, Andrea was expected to stay just inland, dumping more rains across the Mid-Atlantic coast from Georgia all the way into New England over the next week as it is swept along by an approaching front. Forecasters added tropical storm warnings Thursday for much of the U.S. East Coast, which will start feeling Andrea’s soggy impact early Friday as the storm races northeast at an increasing clip.
In southeast Florida, powerful, fast-moving thunderstorms swept in during the morning followed by a misty drizzle. Forecasters expected similar on-and-off storms for most of the day and potentially into Friday as Andrea turns more to the northeast after moving inland.
Thunderstorms could still pop up during the weekend but would be mostly scattered, said Chuck Caracozza, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami-Dade. The service put the rain chance for Southeast Florida at 40 percent on Saturday, dropping to 30 percent by Sunday.
“It looks like more of your typical South Florida weekend,” he said.
Most experts expect the tropics to once again churn out an above average number of storms and hurricanes this season. Federal forecasters predict from 13 to 20 named storms, with three to four possibly becoming major hurricanes of Category 3 or stronger. The historical average for named storms is a dozen a year.
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