Tropical storm threatens Florida

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Andrea took aim at Florida’s northern Gulf Coast today and was forecast to cut across Georgia and up the US Atlantic coast, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

The season’s first Atlantic tropical storm was churning in the Gulf of Mexico, centred about 160 miles west of Tampa, Florida, the centre said. Moving north-northeast, Andrea was expected to make landfall later today over the Big Bend area, where the Florida Peninsula meets the Panhandle.

Andrea packed top sustained winds of 95 kilometres per hour and was not expected to strengthen before moving ashore, the hurricane centre forecasters said.

Andrea posed no threat to US energy interests in the Gulf of Mexico.

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.

“Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the Florida west coast within the warning area later today, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. These conditions will gradually spread northward along the United States East Coast during the next 24 to 36 hours,” the forecasters said.

The forecasters warned of coastal flooding and said the storm could bring heavy rainfall to Florida and the southeastern United States, and possibly a few tornadoes in Florida.

There were a few scattered power outages in Florida but no widespread loss of service.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. (Reuters)

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