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Tropical Storm Andrea drenches Florida's west coast

Tropical Storm Andrea drenches Florida's west coast
Ken Evans/WPTV
Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 8:35am

(CNN) -- Heavy rains and 60 mph winds pounded the west coast of south Florida from the Keys to the Tampa area Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center reported.

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season -- Andrea -- could bring gusts that approach hurricane-force (74 mph or stronger) in the afternoon, but forecasters said in an 8 a.m. alert that the system won't have enough opportunity over water to strengthen into a hurricane before its center reaches the coast north of Tampa.

As of 8 a.m. ET Thursday, Andrea was 160 miles west of Tampa, Florida, and was headed north-northeast at 14 mph.

The main threat from Andrea will be torrential rain, which will cause flooding across the northern half of Florida, especially along the west coast. Rainfall totals could be as high as 6 inches. Weak tornadoes could also be spawned by the storm as it moves across the state.

Compared to the violent tornadoes that touched down recently in Oklahoma and caused devastating damage, tornadoes spawned by tropical systems are usually relatively weak and only touch down briefly, causing scattered damage.

A tornado watch is currently posted for central and south Florida until 11 a.m. ET.

Though it's set to soak Tallahassee, Sue Carpenter doesn't expect Andrea to deter many of her dedicated Pilates students, she told CNN less than an hour before Lifelong Fitness Pilates studio opened. If it gets bad, she may close, she said.

But by 8 a.m., none of her private class clients had called to cancel.

"They're dedicated," she said.

Across town at Mike's Liquor and Beer Barn, the delivery trucks arrived earlier than usual Wednesday morning. "We'll see an upswing" in business during the morning, he said.

"But I think it's not gonna be anything special, nothing real bad. It's been so long since Tallahassee had a storm. Today I think people are just now realizing it's coming."

The storm will also drench southeastern Georgia with as much as 8 inches of rain in some areas. The eastern parts of North and South Carolina could see up to 4 inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center said.

"The combination of a storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters," according to the center.

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