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Tropical Storm Andrea forms; headed up East Coast

By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

6:06 PM EDT, June 5, 2013

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Update, 6:06 p.m.:

Tropical Storm Andrea has formed about 300 miles west of Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Florida's Gulf coast, with tropical storm watches from the Jacksonville, Fla., area to the Carolinas. The storm, whether or not it maintains its strength, could brush past the Delmarva peninsula late Friday with heavy rain and gusty winds, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Original post, as of 2:53 p.m.:

Hurricane forecasters are watching a system of thunderstorms and gale-force winds that is becoming increasingly organized and could soon form the season's first Atlantic tropical cyclone. It could mean rain and wind for Maryland by the end of the week.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center gave it a 60 percent likelihood of becoming Tropical Storm Andrea within the next 48 hours.

The system has already produced torrential rains and flooding in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and in western Cuba. Regardless of whether the low-pressure system continues to strengthen, heavy rains and gusty winds are likely for the Florida Keys and Gulf coast in the next couple of days, according to the hurricane center.

An Air Force aircraft was slated to explore the system Wednesday afternoon to help provide more data, but conditions are not expected to be conducive for the system to strengthen beyond tropical storm status.

The system's rains could eventually be a problem for Florida and points north on the Eastern seaboard, however, the Weather Underground's Jeff Masters suggests. As much as 2-4 inches of rain could fall along a stretch from Florida to New England, Masters wrote.

AccuWeather.com predicts the system will move up the coastline, bringing 35-45 mph wind gusts to waters off Ocean City by Friday.

Local meteorologist "Eric the Red" suggests the system will bring an about-face in local weather, turning tropical and wet, but there are still some questions in the forecast depending on the path the system takes. Locally heavy showers are possible Thursday with more showers or heavy rain possible Friday, he said.