Less than a week into what is forecast to be an active Atlantic hurricane season, the first named storm was churning in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, on course to impact the Florida coast.
Tropical Storm Andrea, packing sustained winds of around 60 miles per hour, was expected to make landfall Thursday evening near the Big Bend area of Florida bringing heavy rainfall to the southeastern US.
The storm, as expected, tracked well to the west of the Cayman Islands and was never regarded as a threat to the territory.
Forecasters at the US National Weather Service warned Thursday that there was potential for tornadoes across southern Florida as Andrea approached the coast.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for much of Florida’s Gulf Coast and for the US Atlantic Coast from northern Florida to Virginia, including the lower Chesapeake Bay.
In its 11am (10am in Grand Cayman) forecast Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said the centre of the storm was hovering offshore around 110 miles west of Tampa.
“A northeastward acceleration is expected during the next 48 hours. On the forecast track, the centre of Andrea will reach the coast of the Big Bend area of Florida later today (Thursday) and then move northwestward near the east coast of the United States through Saturday.
“Maximum sustained winds are near 60mph with higher gusts. No significant change in strength is expected before the centre reaches the coast later today.”
The storm was expected to weaken as its centre moved over land on Friday.