Tropical storm brushes by Florida

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Andrea lost strength as it passed over northern Florida yesterday evening and is forecast to drench much of the US Southeast with heavy rain as it cuts across Georgia and swing up the Atlantic Coast, the National Hurricane Centre said.

The season’s first Atlantic tropical storm had already spawned tornadoes in Florida and threatened to fuel more twisters last night, after making landfall over the Big Bend area where the Florida peninsula joins the mainland.

By yesterday evening, Andrea was packing top sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, as it cuts a soggy path across the peninsula and heads for the Atlantic, the Miami-based centresaid.

It said the winds extended outward up to 140 miles from the storm’s centre.

Andrea will likely remain a tropical storm for a day or two, hugging the shore and bringing heavy rain and gales to Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, said Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Centre.

“It might be just inland and it might be just a little off shore,” Beven said. “It’s going to be a weather-maker” as it moves north up the Atlantic Coast.

On Saturday, Andrea was expected to merge with a frontal system and morph into a Nor’easter as it moved up the coast and toward Nova Scotia.

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 Atlantic Coast from northern Florida to Virginia, including the lower Chesapeake Bay.

The storm’s outer bands buffeted Florida’s west coast beginning early yesterday and multiple tornadoes touched down across the state, including one that ripped a roof off a restaurant in Gulfport. (Reuters)

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