Tropical Storm Andrea: Severe Damage On Florida’s Coast; Where Is The 2013 Season’s First Tropical Storm Headed? [UPDATE, PHOTOS]
Tropical Storm Andrea, the first tempest of the 2013 Atlantic storm season (which goes from June 1 to Nov. 30), dumped massive amounts of water onto the Sunshine State on Thursday and even caused tornadoes that ripped up trees and tore off roofs. ABC News confirmed that Tropical Storm Andrea spawned 14 twisters in Florida on Thursday, before leaving the state behind and swirling north.
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"Inland areas, with the heavy rain and tornadoes, are a real problem," ABC's Sam Champion reported. Many Gulfport, Fla. restaurants and structures took a heavy beating; one restaurant was punctured by a giant tree picked up by one of the storm's twisters. In other areas along the western Florida coast, the storm surge was reportedly three to five feet high.
Tropical Storm Andrea, which began over the Gulf of Mexico, made landfall early Thursday over the Big Bend area of Florida where the state's peninsula meets the mainland. After hitting Florida, Tropical Storm Andrea moved across south Georgia and headed through the Carolinas on Friday morning, slowing commutes and sullying weekend vacation plans. According to the National Hurricane Center, or NHC, as of 11:00 am Friday morning, Tropical Storm Andrea is moving northeast up the East Coast at 28 mph and is about to head into North Carolina. Earlier today, the tempest sustained winds of 45 mph and was centered 35 miles north-northeast of Charleston, S.C. The storm is expected to continue galloping up the Eastern Seaboard through the weekend.
According to Reuters, authorities in South Carolina said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, but that random power outages caused 2,500 customers to lose service.
Fourteen states remain on flood watch. Many areas will get 3 to 4 inches of rain; some will be drenched in up to 6 inches of water. AP reports that even with the heavy rain, forecasters don't expect huge problems for even the most vulnerable seaside communities like North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Reuters reports that this year's tropical storm season could be "extremely active" with 13 to 20 tropical storms, seven to eleven of which are expected to become hurricanes, according to the U.S. government's top climate agency. In Cuba, where heavy rains from Tropical Storm Andrea caused major river flooding, more than 3,300 people were evacuated and nearly a 1,000 acres of cropland was heavily damaged.
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