Photo courtesy: NASA GOES Project via USA TODAY
MIAMI -- Tropical Storm Andrea has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported late this afternoon. It is the first named storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.
The hurricane center announced that it will start issuing advisories within the next hour or so. A hurricane hunter aircraft "was able to identify a well-defined circulation" within the storm.
Andrea will bring heavy rain, gusty winds, rough surf and severe thunderstorms to much of Florida on Thursday, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
It is forecast to cross the Florida peninsula on Thursday before heading up the Eastern Seaboard on Friday and Saturday, delivering heavy rain and thunderstorms from the mid-Atlantic to New England.
The system has already produced drenching rainfall in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and in western Cuba, the hurricane center reported.
According to the Associated Press, a tropical storm watch has been posted for part of the North Carolina coast.
The National Weather Service said the watch extends from Flagler Beach, Fla., to Surf City. The southeastern coast can expect up to 4 inches of rain through Friday, and meteorologist David Glenn said the storm could lead to gusty winds and up to 3 inches of rain near the Outer Banks.
Glenn said there's also a possibility of rip currents and high tides, and that tornadoes are a threat for Friday, depending on Andrea's path.
The National Hurricane Center says the storm is expected to move over southeastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina on Thursday night and Friday.
Stay on top of the storm by checking out WFMY News 2's new Hurricane Guide