RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — After bringing rains, heavy winds and even tornadoes to parts of Florida, Tropical Storm Andrea moved quickly across south Georgia and was leaving the Carolinas waterlogged on Friday while sparing the area any serious damage.
The first named storm of the Atlantic season lost some intensity after making landfall Thursday in Florida and its winds were down to 45 mph (75 kph) Friday.
Ben Nelson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, Fla., said Andrea (pronounced AN’-dree-ah) was “moving at a pretty brisk pace” and could lose its tropical characteristics Friday.
Authorities in Virginia blamed heavy rain from the storm’s outer bands for a fatal accident on Interstate 77 in the state’s western mountains. William Petty, 57, of Lexington, S.C., died when a car in which he was a passenger hydroplaned while passing a tractor-trailer. He survived the crash, only to be killed moments later when the car was struck by second tractor-trailer, authorities said.
During the morning rush hour in Charleston, S.C., there was little evidence the center of the storm was passing to the northwest beyond a few downed tree branches, gusty winds and some puddles in the street. The sun occasionally peeked through.
Derrec Becker with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said the storm has brought only a severe thunderstorm. No injuries were reported, and there had been no reports of significant damage.
The storm was expected to be centered over North Carolina by midday.
The National Weather Service issued flood watches across much of both states, was well as tornado and flash flood watches in several counties.
Thousands of power outages were also reported.
Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for the East Coast from Georgia to Virginia, meaning tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere inside those areas within a day and a half.
Rains and winds from the storm were forecast to sweep northward along the Southeastern U.S. coast on Friday.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott had warned of the risk of tornadoes, and officials said that eight were confirmed across the state. Slower-moving storms can pose a greater flood risk because they have more time to linger and dump rain, though Andrea still could bring as much as 6 inches to parts of the Carolinas.
Forecasters didn’t expect major problems, however, along the most vulnerable parts of the coast such as the Outer Banks, a popular tourist destination.
John Elardo, a meteorologist with the weather service in Newport, N.C., said the storm would push major waves to the north and northeast, away from the Outer Banks. Storms in the fall and winter wore away dunes and washed out portions of N.C. Highway 12, the only road connecting the barrier island to the mainland of North Carolina.
Andrea could bring up to a foot of flooding on the sound side of the Outer Banks, Elardo said.
David Tweedie, 41, of Ocracoke, said an early morning burst of rain and the forecast of another three hours or so of rain and wind on the Outer Banks island has done little to alter the day’s routine for the roughly 1,000 year-round residents.
The Friday fish fry that kicks off the island’s annual folk music and arts festival was moved indoors to the island’s only public school, and a musical performance of the three-day event was moved to the community center. But the tropical system was otherwise forcing no changes to the Ocrafolk Festival that normally draws more than 2,000 visitors, Tweedie said.
“The weather is looking pretty good for blowing out and for us having a good day tomorrow,” said Tweedie, the festival coordinator. “Right now it’s sunny.”
The rain threatened to ruin a beach day for Angela Hursh, 41, of Cincinnati, who had rented a house in Frisco, N.C. Hursh was planning Friday to soak in the hot tub and watch movies with her 9-year-old and 13-year-old daughters.
“I think we’re just going to hunker down and eat junk food,” Hursh said Thursday.
Doug Brindley, who owns a vacation lodging rental service on the northern end of the Outer Banks near Virginia, said Thursday he expects all outdoor activities to be washed out Friday, driving tens of thousands of early-summer vacationers toward unexpected shopping sprees.
“We’re going to have rain and wind,” said Brindley, who owns Brindley Beach Vacations and Sales. “Retailers are going to love it.”
Farther east in Chapel Hill, heavy rains forced the forced the postponement of Friday’s NCAA super regional baseball series opener between No. 1 seeded North Carolina and South Carolina. A second game between N.C. State and Rice in Raleigh has been delayed three hours to 7 p.m. due to the weather.
In Cuba, days of torrential rains associated with Andrea caused rivers to jump their banks in the western province of Pinar del Rio. More than 3,300 people evacuated endangered homes, and nearly 1,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of croplands suffered “serious damage,” state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde said Friday. Rain was forecast to continue falling on already waterlogged areas through Saturday.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C.; Jack Jones in Columbia, S.C.; Jennifer Kay in Miami; Gary Fineout and Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla.; Peter Orsi in Havana.
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