Gulfport resident very glad to be safe after tornado hits
(CNN) — Jim Shepperd was just crossing Gulfport's Howard Frankland Bridge when the winds whipped furiously and the first named storm of the hurricane season began its one-two punch on the coastal Florida city.
By the time he and his chow-shepherd mix, Aussie, made it home, Tropical Storm Andrea was thrashing his neighborhood. Just down the street, a tornado touched down, felling a massive 200-year-old cedar tree. "There were a lot of trees down," the hairstylist said Friday morning. "We're lucky. We're OK."
By 8 a.m. ET, Andrea's heavy rain had moved on, targeting a broad swath of the East Coast. Forecasters say it's expected to drench 13 states from Georgia to Maine.
Meteorologists want everyone in Andrea's path to know this: The storm's biggest danger will probably be flash floods.
The National Weather Service offers tips on what to do in a flooding situation. In short, road beds may be washed out under flood waters, so never drive through flooded roadways.
At 8 a.m. Friday, Andrea was moving northeast toward South Carolina with maximum winds of 45 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was about 37 miles northwest of Charleston, according to the center. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for areas north of the Savannah River to Cape Charles, Pamlico and Albemarle sounds and the lower Chesapeake Bay, south of New Port Comfort.
WCSC in Charleston reported that Mayor Joe Riley said Thursday that city employees do not have to be at work Friday until 10 a.m.
Flood preparation was under way in the city Thursday, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said.
Farther north on Friday, a flood watch area includes Washington, which the National Weather Service predicts could get up to 6 inches of rain Friday, and New York, where forecasters say 1 to 2 inches of rain an hour could fall at times into Saturday.
Even Maine's coast, including Portland, could see as much as 3 inches of rain by the time the weekend is done.
As of 8 a.m., Andrea's projected path is similar to that of Tropical Storm Debby nearly a year ago. Debby dumped up to 2 feet of rain onto the low-lying areas, causing extensive flooding in some coastal towns.
CNN meteorologists Sean Morris and Ivan Cabrera contributed to this report.
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