By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, S.C., June 7 (Reuters) - Cyclone Andrea made its way up the U.S. East Coast on Friday, dumping rains from the Carolinas to as far north as New England and delaying hundreds of flights.
Andrea shed its tropical characteristics but still remained a threatening storm with heavy rain and high winds, prompting flood warnings in coastal areas across the Eastern Seaboard.
The storm’s center was located 55 miles (90 km) east-northeast of Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday evening, the National Hurricane Center said.
The change in the classification of the storm to what forecasters call a post-tropical cyclone did not mean it was losing its strength, said John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at the Miami-based hurricane center.
“It hasn’t weakened,” he said.
The storm still had winds of 45 miles per hour (75 kph), mainly offshore, and threatened to bring heavy rain and coastal flooding to those in its path.
Alex Sosnowski, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather Inc., said the storm could cause disruptive downpours around Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.
“Indications are that most locations in this swath will be in for a 2- to 4-inch (5-10 cm) rainfall but locally heavier amounts are possible,” he wrote on the private forecaster’s website.
With the storm sweeping up the Atlantic coast, Major League Baseball games in Washington, Boston and New York were postponed because of rain on Friday.
Weather-related flight delays were reported at airports in Philadelphia, New York and Boston, according to FlightAware, a website that tracks flights.
Andrea was moving over cooler water and merging with a stationary front, drawing fuel from that system rather than the warm seas it had moved over earlier, Cangialosi said.
Earlier on Friday, Andrea moved swiftly over the Carolinas, but caused no significant damage. Scattered power outages were reported in South Carolina, with 2,500 customers losing service.
The hurricane center warned the storm could cause tornadoes in coastal areas from North Carolina through Virginia.
After swirling over the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Andrea made landfall on Thursday over the Big Bend area where the Florida peninsula joins the mainland.
The storm buffeted Florida’s western coast, spawning several tornadoes, including one that ripped a roof off a restaurant in the city of Gulfport, before moving across southern Georgia and into the Carolinas.
The storm kicked off the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
The U.S. government’s top climate agency warned in an annual forecast last month that this year’s season could be “extremely active” with 13 to 20 tropical storms, of which seven to 11 could become hurricanes.
Three to six hurricanes could become major at Category 3 or above, with winds of more than 110 mph (177 kph), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.