Tropical Storm Andrea 2013 Path to Hit Florida Coast With Near-Hurricane Winds, Torrential Rains (Map, Video Update)

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(Photo: YouTube/CNN Screen Shot)Tropical Storm Andrea

Tropical Storm Andrea is slamming the west coast of south Florida on Thursday morning, with heavy rains and winds of 60 mph pounding the region from the Florida Keys to the Tampa area.

Tropical Storm Andrea is the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, and is thought to still be strengthening with winds set to rise to near-hurricane strengths of 74 mph or more by Thursday afternoon. However, experts have said Thursday morning that they do not believe the tropical storm will strengthen as far as a hurricane before it reaches land.

At 9 a.m. ET the storm was about 150 miles west of Tampa and moving about 14 mph north-northeast.

Residents in Florida have been warned that the biggest threat will be the torrential rains, and flooding is expected to hit the north western coastal regions of Florida. In some areas about 6 inches of rainfall is predicted.

Another potential hazard could come from tornadoes, which could result from the tropical storm as it hits land. Although the tornadoes would be expected to be nowhere near as big as the ones that hit Oklahoma recently, they could still cause localized damage where they touch down for brief periods.

Officials have announced a tornado watch for central and south Florida which will continue throughout Thursday morning.

South east Georgia could also be hit badly by heavy rains, and nearly 8 inches could fall in some areas there. According to the National Hurricane Center, North and South Carolina could also experience as much as 4 inches of rain in some parts.

The National Hurricane Center has warned: "The combination of a storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters."

Here is a video report into Tropical Storm Andrea: