Tropical Storm Andrea packed a wet wallop on Florida

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(CNN) — There have been bigger storms before, with stronger winds. Still, Tropical Storm Andrea packed a wet wallop Thursday in Florida, and prompted flood warnings and watches up the East Coast.

Flash-flood warnings extend from the Sunshine State through coastal communities north to Virginia, thanks to tropical conditions due to Andrea and more.

While Andrea never reached hurricane status — it would’ve had to have sustained winds of 74 mph or more to get that honor — strong winds could pose a problem. Tornado watches were in effect Thursday night for 44 counties in Florida and four in south Georgia.

Andrea came ashore around around 5:40 p.m. in the swampy, sparsely populated Big Bend region of Florida — a crook on the state’s west coast — about 10 miles south of Steinhatchee, a town 180 miles north of Tampa. The storm carried heavy rain and winds of up to 65 mph.

Despite warnings that storm surges plus torrential rains could equal major flooding, Taylor County Emergency Management Director Dustin Hinkel told CNN that Andrea was bringing precipitation and high winds but little trouble.

“We’ve had good luck with the storm coming ashore during low tide, so we have had some very, very minor coastal flooding so far,” Hinkel said. “The rain has been very manageable here.”

Taylor County issued only a voluntary evacuation call as the storm neared, aimed at people living in mobile homes and older buildings, Hinkel said. No evacuations were ordered in in Dixie County, to the south, said Tim Alexander, the emergency services director there.

“We will have some low-lying freshwater flooding,” Alexander said. “We don’t anticipate, if it holds, that we’ll have anybody stranded or have to evacuate anybody.”

And many Floridians sounded unimpressed as Andrea neared land.

Though it’s set to soak Tallahassee, Sue Carpenter doesn’t expect Andrea to deter many of her dedicated students at Lifelong Fitness Pilates. By 8 a.m. Thursday, none of her private class clients had called to cancel.

“They’re dedicated,” Carpenter said.

Mike Raynor, the owner of Mike’s Liquor and Beer Barn across town, said Thursday that Andrea hasn’t been on many people’s radar.

“I think it’s not gonna be anything special, nothing real bad,” he said. “It’s been so long since Tallahassee had a storm.”

Still, in Florida and points north, the rain could end up causing big headaches and possible damage.

The storm is projected to cross northern Florida and southern Georgia before skirting the Atlantic coast on Friday, bringing the potential for flash floods up the Eastern Seaboard.

Parts of southeastern Georgia could see as much as 8 inches of rain, while up to 4 inches of rain could fall in the eastern parts of North and South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said

The storm’s projected path is roughly the same as Tropical Storm Debby nearly a year ago. Debby dumped up to 2 feet of rain onto the low-lying region, causing extensive flooding in some coastal towns.

“The combination of a storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters,” according to the Miami-based center.

Andrea picked up speed as it chugged toward shore Thursday and was moving to the northeast at 17 mph, the center said in its 5 p.m. advisory.

Tropical storm warnings stretched from Boca Grande, near Fort Myers, to the mouth of the Ochlockonee River, south of Tallahassee. On the East Coast, warnings were also posted from Flagler Beach, Florida, about 70 miles south of Jacksonville, to the southern reaches of Chesapeake Bay.