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The worst of the winds and rain from Tropical Storm Andrea are expected between midnight and daybreak Friday, the National Weather Service, Charleston, reported this evening.

Boat tips

A few reminders about securing boats against high winds:

- Tighten loose lines, mooring lines and cleats.

For hurricane strength winds:

- Remove sails, including head sails from the headstays. They can unfurl, stress then drop the rig.

- Consider hauling the boat out of the water and do haul it out if strong hurricane winds can occur.

Always and for absentee owners:

- Check in with marina staff, who customarily walk the docks to check on boats.

source: Batton Kennon, Charleston City Boatyard.

But the storm might pass by most morning commuters.

“Hopefully it will be out of here by the time most people hit the road,” said meteorologist Jonathan Lamb, with the weather service.

Andrea is still expected to hug the coast, with the eye — if there is still an eye — passing over or near Charleston about 6 a.m. The worst of the storm will be to the north and east of the eye, with the strongest winds staying offshore.

Andrea made landfall in Florida at 5:45 p.m. with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is moving northeast at 17 mph.

A cumulative 3-5 inches of rain is forecast overnight. Winds are expected 20-30 mph with gust to 40 mph along the coast. Inland, they’re forecast 15-25 mph with gusts to 30 mph. There’s a threat of isolated tornadoes throughout the region and a few possible tornadoes formed in Georgia Thursday afternoon with the storm still well to the south.

At sustained 30 mph winds, Charleston County would put out cautions for bigger vehicles crossing higher elevation bridges. At 40 mph sustained winds, all vehicles would be cautioned that the bridges are not safe for travel.

But by the evening forecast, neither was expected to happen.

Overall, the storm was forecast to be less of a threat than it was earlier.

“Just enough to be a headache,” Lamb said.

More than four inches of rain already had fallen in some spots by noon, so flooding will be a concern in the usual low spots and streets.

Little storm surge is expected, so tidal flooding isn’t a big concern.

“My hunch is we’re going to see some significant issues in coastal areas, but it’s going to be from rain, not tides,” Lamb said.

Commuters along exposed routes should consider their alternatives.

The Lowcountry is under a tropical storm warning as Andrea, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, barrels up the eastern coast, the National Weather Service said.

Andrea made landfall in the Big Bend of Florida this evening, still maintaining 60 mph winds and travelling 15 mph.

A flash flood watch is in effect through Friday morning, the Weather Service reports.

Charleston police Cpl. Fred Bowie said the department has personnel out surveying area thoroughfares for flooding this morning.

High water was on Fisburne Street near Ashley Avenue during Thursday morning. The Septima P. Clark Expressway, also known as the Crosstown, was down to one lane in each direction.

“Certainly conditions can change rapidly with changes in tides and rainfall. Motorists are advised to exercise caution and to expect delays,” Bowie said in an email.

The Weather Service reports a near 100 percent chance of thunderstorms and showers.

“We had some heavy rain showers earlier which have either diminished or moved off the coast. In a message posted on its website this morning, The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control urged dam operators across the state to monitor their reservoirs for possible problems caused by heavy rainfall.

“Owners who have the ability to lower their reservoir’s water level should safely do so to provide additional storage for the anticipated rainfall,” said John Poole of DHEC’s dam safety program.

Dam operators should notify other operators downstream before lowering water levels, Poole said. Any accumulated trash and debris should be cleared from spillways, he said.

“Dam owners should monitor the conditions at their dams during events that can produce large floods,” Poole said. “If problems prompt potential failure of the dam, or if failure is imminent, the owner or operator of the dam should contact the downstream property owners and local public safety officials.”

Tropical Storm Andrea got a little stronger early Thursday as it headed toward Florida’s western coast and a new tropical storm warning was issued for a swath of the U.S. East Coast.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds increased to near 60 mph (95 kph) and the storm was expected to reach Florida’s Big Bend area later in the day before moving across southeastern Georgia and the Carolinas.

Forecasters say Andrea could bring three to 6 inches of rain to the Florida Panhandle and southeastern Georgia, with isolated areas seeing as much as 8 inches.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for a large section of Florida’s west coast from Boca Grande to Indian Pass and for the East Coast from Flagler Beach, Fla., all the way to Cape Charles Light in Virginia.

As of about 5 a.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 220 miles (355 kilometers) west-southwest of Tampa and was moving north-northeast near 13 mph (20 kph).

In Florida, Gulf Islands National Seashore closed its campgrounds and the road that runs through the popular beach-front park Wednesday. The national seashore abuts Pensacola Beach and the park road frequently floods during heavy rains. On Pensacola Beach, condominium associations asked people to remove furniture on high balconies because of the expected high winds and beach lifeguards warned tourists of possible high surf.

A forecast map predicts the storm will continue along the East Coast through the weekend before heading out to sea again, though a storm’s track is often hard to predict days in advance.

Locally, highs today will be about 80 with lows about 70. Southeast winds will be from 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph after midnight.

Tropical storm conditions will remain possible on Friday with a near 100 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs will be in the mid 80s with lows in the mid 70s. Southwest winds will be from 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies are expected on Saturday with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs will be in the mid 80s with lows about 70.

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