Andrea Emerges And Strengthens In Gulf

First Named Storm Of 2013 Atlantic Season To Bring Rain And Wind From Florida To Mid-Atlantic

Over the past several months, several seasonal prognostications have come out with indications that the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be extremely busy.   Not even a week into the new season, the first named system of the year has developed, and is threatening to impact a large swath of the East Coast of the United States from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic including New Jersey.

Currently, Andrea is in the Northeastern Gulf near landfall in the Big Bend area of the Northwestern Florida coast.  Maximum sustained winds as of the 5:00 PM  EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center were 65 miles per hour.  Barometric pressure is down to 993 millibars, or 29.32 inchees of Hg.  Andrea is moving to the Northeast at 17 miles per hour.  Tropical Storm force winds reach out some 140 miles from the center.  The latest observation out of Cedar Key, Florida had a sustained wind of 41 miles per hour with a gust up to 54 miles per hour.

The storm had emerged on Thursday afternoon after being a broad and disorganized area of low pressure.  Andrea wasn’t even classified as a depression.  Rather, it went straight from an Invest to a Tropical Storm with minimal strength winds of 40 miles per hour.  Andrea had a flare-up of thunderstorms late last night after struggling to hang on for much of the evening.  The storm has been battling strong upper level winds as well as a lot of dry air to the west of it.   Nevertheless, it was able to intensify.  The satellite and radar animation has depicted thunderstorm activity attempting to wrap around the center of circulation.  

While Andrea will bring rip currents, storm surge levels between 2 to 4 feet, and a threat of  tornadoes in Florida, the significant problem that the storm will present is the combination of some gusty winds and heavy rains, especially as it moves further up the coast.  Combining with a frontal system approaching from the west, what is left of Andrea could bring anywhere from one to three inches of rain in the Mid-Atlantic with some areas receiving up to 5 inches.  The National Weather Service in Mount Holly has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Delaware, Maryland, most of New Jersey including Middlesex County, and Eastern Pennsylvania.

The forecast models are all in very good agreement on where this storm is going to go.  It is currently making landfall in the Big Bend area of Florida, and then Andrea will continue to move northeastward into Southern Georgia.  On Friday, the storm will proceed through the Carolinas into the Mid-Atlantic, and be just to the south of Cape May by 8:00 PM Friday night.  New Jersey should experience heaviest rain from Andrea  from  late Friday afternoon into Friday evening.

Clouds have been gathering all day in the Garden State, but no precipitation has fallen yet here in Northwestern Middlesex County.  The region had been experiencing a brief stretch of fine weather after the storminess that developed late Sunday into portions of Monday.  Overall, conditions have been relatively dry here in New Jersey.  Here in South Plainfield, there has been 13.11 inches of rain so far this year.   In addition, temperatures have been a bit cooler than the same period last year with the first 90 degree days of the year occurring during last week’s heat wave.