UPDATE 5-Tropical Storm Andrea weakens as swirls over Florida

Thu Jun 6, 2013 8:40pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

MIAMI, June 6 (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Andrea lost strength as it passed over northern Florida on Thursday evening and is forecast to drench much of the U.S. Southeast with heavy rain as it cuts across Georgia and swing up the Atlantic Coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

The season's first Atlantic tropical storm had already spawned tornadoes in Florida and threatened to fuel more twisters on Thursday night, after making landfall over the Big Bend area where the Florida peninsula joins the mainland.

By Thursday evening, Andrea was packing top sustained winds of 50 miles (85 km) per hour, as it cuts a soggy path across the peninsula and heads for the Atlantic, the Miami-based center said.

It said the winds extended outward up to 140 miles (220 km) from the storm's center.

Andrea will likely remain a tropical storm for a day or two, hugging the shore and bringing heavy rain and gales to Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, said Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

"It might be just inland and it might be just a little off shore," Beven said. "It's going to be a weather-maker" as it moves north up the Atlantic Coast.

On Saturday, Andrea was expected to merge with a frontal system and morph into a Nor'easter as it moved up the coast and toward Nova Scotia.   Continued...