June 6, 2013

Tropical Storm Andrea's Impact on Florida

Tropical Storm Andrea, rolling northeastward toward Florida into Thursday will bring heavy rain, gusty winds, rough surf and severe thunderstorms.  Andrea strengthened a bit overnight. As of 5:00 a.m. EDT Thursday, maximum sustained winds were 60 mph. The storm was located approximately 195 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Fla.  While not a major threat to lives and property, Andrea can cause some damage, sporadic power outages and travel disruptions. The system will also bring needed rain to parts of Florida and the South.  Downpours could flood some roadways, while thunderstorms could briefly delay flights.  Boaters along the west and east coast of Florida should exercise extreme caution through the end of the week, due to the potential for rough seas in unprotected waters. 

Severe Thunderstorm, Tornado Risk
According to Tropical and Southern Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski, "The system has the potential to produce a couple of brief tornadoes as it rolls ashore along the upper west coast of Florida Thursday."  A tornado was spotted early Thursday morning in Myakka City, Fla., which is about 20 miles east of Sarasota. The tornado caused damage to a house and knocked down power lines.  The risk of tornadoes, although relatively small with weak tropical systems, would occur east and northeast of where the storm center makes landfall.  Although sustained winds in most cases will be generally be near or under 40 mph, locally higher gusts can occur in bands of showers and thunderstorms from the system. Sporadic power outages are possible as a result of downed tree limbs and wires.
Coastal Flooding
"The wind flow along the Florida west coast will be out of the south and southwest Thursday into Thursday night and can lead to an average water level water rise of 1 to 3 feet," Kottlowski said.  Winds will be slightly onshore along the Atlantic coast with the system as it moves along.  While such a water rise is relatively insignificant, it will occur a couple of days ahead of the new moon when tides are slightly higher to begin with.  Minor coastal flooding is possible, especially around times of high tide from Florida to North Carolina.

Flooding Rainfall
The greatest impact from the system will be heavy rainfall and the potential for urban and poor drainage area flooding.  "The storm has the potential to bring a swath of 4- to 8-inch rainfall with locally higher amounts from west-central Florida to northeastern Florida and along the southern Atlantic coast," Kottlowski said.  It does appear the storm will pick up forward speed rather than stall like Beryl did during May of 2012.  Once the feature reaches Florida, it will likely stay over or very close to land along the southern Atlantic coast Friday, practically ending any chance of strengthening as a tropical system.  The system is forecasted by AccuWeather.com meteorologists to track northeastward into New England, where it will likely be soon joined by a non-tropical system moving in from the Midwest.

By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist

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