After bringing rains, heavy winds and even tornadoes to parts of Florida, Tropical Storm Andrea moved quickly up the Southeastern coast Friday, leaving parts of Georgia and the Carolinas waterlogged while sparing the region 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 Friday afternoon. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was losing its tropical characteristics but that tropical storm conditions were still spreading northeastward along the East Coast, with strong winds possible as far north as Canada by Sunday.
As of Friday afternoon, the storm was 70 miles northwest of Wilmington, N.C., and moving northeast at 28 mph.
The storm was forecast to move out of North Carolina on Friday night and north up along the Delmarva peninsula and into New England. A tropical storm warning for the Atlantic Coast extended from Little River inlet in South Carolina to the lower Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. The storm was expected to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain to the Eastern Seaboard as well as storm surge-related flooding.
Cities in the Mid-Atlantic region and Northeast were bracing for the storm. New York City activated its flash-flooding plan, while a flash-flood watch was issued for southeastern Pennsylvania. The rainy weather washed out events such as NASCAR’s Sprint Cup qualifying and the Washington Nationals’ Friday night home game.
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 a second tractor-trailer, authorities said.
During the morning rush hour in Charleston, S.C., there was little evidence that 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.
Capital Region area residents don’t have to worry as much this time as they have for some storms in the past. According to the National Weather Service in Albany, rainfall should only amount to an inch or an inch and a half by the storm’s end. It is predicted that skies in the Capital Region will clear up in the afternoon today.
“We’re not expecting much in the way of flooding at this time. Hopefully just wet conditions,” Kevin Lipton, weather service meteorologist in Albany, said on Friday. “Not really much wind either; most of the wind is going to be well southeast of here, more towards southern New England and Long Island. It’s really mainly just going to be rain, a renewed threat of rain through most of [Friday] into [Friday night] and then it should be tapering of into [Saturday] morning.”
However, with the rain present, the New York State Canal Corp. was taking steps to prevent flooding on the canal.
“On Wednesday, with storm track information from the National Weather Service, the Canal Corp. began pre-emptive actions, which included drawing reservoirs down and lowering water levels in the canal to minimum navigation levels to provide a buffer for potential rising waters,” Shane Mahar, deputy director of the Office of Media Relations & Communications for the Canal Corp., said on Friday. “Our preparedness level is high and all essential staff have been placed on standby as we actively monitor this weather event,” he said.
In the town of Halfmoon, the Hudson River Paddle from the Mechanicville Dock to Lighthouse Park scheduled for today was canceled over concerns about the storm and the high water levels on the Hudson River. The event will be rescheduled.
John Elardo, a meteorologist with the weather service in Newport, N.C., said Thursday that 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 shifted 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.
Authorities in coastal Bertie County said a school bus with 32 elementary students on board slid off the road and into a ditch about 8 a.m. No injuries were reported.
A Coast Guard cutter and HC-130 Hercules airplane were called to rescue four adults aboard a 35-foot sailboat about 65 miles off Charleston, S.C. The sailboat’s engine was disabled during the storm and left rocking in 15-foot seas and 35-mph winds.
Vacationers were keeping a close eye on the storm.
Tan Sanders, 20, of Goldsboro, brought his surfboard, hoping for bigger-than-usual waves during his vacation at North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The newcomer to surfing got more than he wanted.
“I went out for probably about 20 or 30 minutes, but it was beating me to death so we come back in,” Sanders said.
But it wasn’t long before the heavy weather was gone.
“We did most of what we wanted to, other than working around the rain,” Sanders said. “It was definitely blowing some sand for a little while, but after about two o’clock or three o’clock it got right back to normal with people going back out on the beach, taking their chairs and stuff.”
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