Just a handful of days after the official June 1 start to hurricane season, the first named storm of 2013 has arrived: Tropical Storm Andrea formed yesterday evening (June 5), and is taking aim at Florida.
Forecasters had been watching a low-pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico to see if it would develop into a tropical storm. Yesterday evening, hurricane-hunter aircraft spotted a center of circulation in the system and measured winds that looked to be above the 39-mph (63 km/h) threshold required to qualify as a tropical storm. The storm was given the first name on the 2013 hurricane name list, Andrea.
Since forming, Tropical Storm Andrea has strengthened, becoming larger and developing more intense thunderstorms. As of the most recent National Hurricane Center update on the storm, it has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 km/h). Tropical storm-force winds have been detected 140 miles (220 kilometers) from the storm's center.
The center of the storm is currently 160 miles (255 km) west of Tampa and 140 miles (225 km) south of Apalachicola, Fla., moving to the north-northeast at 14 mph (22 km/h). The storm is expected to make landfall over the Florida peninsula later today; its outer bands are already bringing rains and even tornadoes to Florida.
Andrea had already spawned five tornadoes as of 9 a.m. EDT today (June 6), Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters wrote on his blog. Images of downed trees and power lines from the storm have already emerged online.
The storm is expected to bring rains totaling 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15 centimeters) over much of the Florida peninsula, with some areas seeing potentially as much as 10 inches (25 cm) of rain.
After it moves over Florida, Andrea is expected to continue up along the East Coast, from southeast Georgia over Virginia, and possibly into the Northeast.
Andrea is the first of 13 to 20 expected named storms for 2013. Named storms include tropical storms and hurricanes. Seven to 11 of those named storms are expected to become hurricanes. Hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30, though storms have been known to form after that date.