T.S. Andrea slogs ashore on Fla.'s Big Bend

Atlantic north of Flagler Beach remains under storm warning, tornado watch

Published On: Jun 03 2013 09:55:28 AM EDT   Updated On: Jun 07 2013 02:10:00 AM EDT
Tropical Storm Andrea splashes ashore
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season increased its sustained winds to 65 mph winds late Thursday before making landfall at 5:40 p.m. about 10 miles south of Steinhatchee, Fla.

At 2 a.m. Friday -- more than eight hours after landfall -- the National Hurricane Center says the storm still had 45 mph sustained winds and was located about 65 miles south-southwest of Savannah, Ga.  Andrea's forward speed had increased to 19 mph.

While all watches and warnings were dropped from Florida's Gulf Coast, a tropical storm warning remained in effect up the East Coast from Flagler Beach north to Cape Charles Light, Virginia.

While a flood warning also remains in effect in Alachua, Bradford, Clay, Columbia and Union counties in Florida and Glynn County in Georgia, the storm moved through the area quicker than expected and did not drop as much rainfall as feared -- only 2 to 3 inches in most areas.

TS Andrea nears landfall "Only a little more than an inch is expected... in Northeast Florida as drier air is being fed into Andrea’s circulation," Channel 4 Hurricane Expert George Winterling wrote late Thursday on his Eye on the Storm blog. "Southeast Georgia may receive 2 to 4 inches before the drier air cuts into the Atlantic-fed moisture."

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for all northeast Florida and southeast Georgia counties as thunderstorms in rain bands sweep northward from warm, unstable air over central and southern Florida.

A waterspout near Mayport just after 4:30 p.m. moved onshore, causing some minor damage on the Navy base.  The same squall line moved north up the coast, taking down trees and at least one roof in Fernandina Beach a few minutes later.  No injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service confirmed several tornadoes touched down in Florida Thursday, including the twisters in Mayport and Fernandina Beach.

The storm was expected to lose steam by Saturday as it moved through the eastern United States, dropping up to 4 inches of rain as far north as Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Meanwhile, south Georgia residents were bracing for high winds and heavy rains that could lead to flooding.

On Cumberland Island off the Georgia cost, the National Park Service was evacuating campers as the storm approached.

"My main concern is the winds," said chief park ranger Bridget Bohnet. "We're subject to trees falling and limbs breaking, and I don't want anybody getting hurt."

The Florida Division of Emergency Management is urging residents to stay alert to the potential threat of heavy rainfall and severe weather through Friday.

While the system moved in from the west, the Atlantic coast will see a moderate to high risk of rip currents through the weekend.