Season's first tropical storm forms in the Gulf - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Season's first tropical storm forms in the Gulf

Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Andrea falls Thursday in Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Petersburg, FL. (Source: WTSP/CNN) Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Andrea falls Thursday in Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Petersburg, FL. (Source: WTSP/CNN)

(RNN) – Less than a week into the official hurricane season, the first storm of the year has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is not expected to strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall in Florida later Thursday.

At of 7 a.m. advisory, Tropical Storm Andrea's center was located near latitude 27.7 north, longitude 85.1 west, about 160 miles west of Tampa and about 140 miles south of Apalachicola, FL.

The tropical storm was moving toward the north-northeast at about 14 mph. The maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the west coast of Florida from Boca Grande to Indian Pass, from Flagler Beach, FL, to Cape Charles Light, VA, as well as Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds and Lower Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

A tropical storm warning indicates tropical storm conditions are possible in a particular area in the next 36 hours.

A turn toward the northeast with an additional increase in forward speed is expected Thursday.

The National Weather Service said the center of Andrea is expected to reach the coast of the Florida Big Bend area late Thursday before moving Friday across southeastern Georgia, southeastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina.

The winds are occurring primarily to the north and east of the center. Tropical storm force winds extend out up to 140 miles from the storm's center, and the lowest pressure reported in the storm was 997 millibars.

The National Weather Service advisory warned of flooding caused by a combination of storm surge and tides. If the peak surge coincides with high tide, waters could reach as much as five feet above ground level from Tampa Bay northward to Apalachicola, FL.

South of Tampa Bay and from Flagler Beach, FL, north to Cape Charles Light, VA, storm surges of up to two feet about ground are possible.

Dangerous squall lines from the tropical system have already made an impact on Florida. Overnight, the National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for several counties, including Polk, Manatee and Hillsborough counties on the west coast and Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties on the east coast.

More tornado warning are possible in Florida Thursday.

Andrea is expected to drop anywhere from three to six inches of rain on the Florida panhandle and south Georgia, with isolated areas seeing up to eight inches. Rain accumulations of two to four inches are also expected over the eastern Carolinas and southeastern Virginia.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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