Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tropical Storm Andrea forms in Gulf

The swirling mass of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico now has a name: Tropical Storm Andrea.

A news release from the National Hurricane Center in Miami says a reconnaissance aircraft spotted a well-defined area of circulation over the central Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday afternoon.

The storm is expected to dump 5-7 inches of rain on Manatee County, starting Wednesday night.

A tropical storm warning was issued a 6 p.m. from Boca Grande north to the Ochlockonee River. The National Weather Service upgraded the mass of low pressure to tropical storm status Wednesday evening after a reconnaissance aircraft spotted a well-defined area of circulation over the central Gulf of Mexico.

At 6 p.m., Andrea was 310 miles southwest of Tampa moving north at 3 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

A flood watch has been issued for most of Southwest Florida, including Manatee County through 8 p.m. Thursday. A flood watch means that flooding is possible during the next 24 to 48 hours. Residents in flood-prone areas should take action to protect property.

Coastal flood and high surf advisories have also been issued for the area until 8 p.m. Friday.

The weather service predicts 5- to 7-foot waves with large breaking surf and rip currents at area beaches through Friday. High tides may run 1 to 3 feet above normal.

Barricades are already up in flood-prone areas of Anna Maria Island and sandbags are being distributed.

“We always have sand available for residents,” at North Bay Boulevard and North Shore Drive, said Diane Percycoe, the city’s finance director and emergency manager. Sandbags can also be picked up at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

City workers are also cleaning out storm drains in anticipation of heavy rains, Percycoe said.

Officials in Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key all report they are ready for flooding in low-lying areas and are monitoring weather reports.

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