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Tropical Storm Andrea douses S.W. Florida

By Staff | Jun 7, 2013

It’s June, a tornado watch was issued for Southwest Florida for much of Thursday, and the sun hasn’t come out for three days with all the clouds and rain.

It’s a good bet that rainy season has arrived, and a way to kick it off, with Tropical Storm Andrea meandering over the Gulf of Mexico to dump several inches of rain on us.

Rainy season officially started on May 26, according to WINK-TV meteorologist Katie Walls, which is about average for Southwest Florida.

“The rainy season is determined when we have three consecutive days of dewpoints over 70 degrees and the afternoon stormy pattern set up,” Walls said.

And Andrea has certainly reinforced the summer conditions. It has given us mainly gloomy weather since Monday, which has gotten worse as the storm intensified.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for all of Southwest Florida until Thursday evening at 10 p.m., just before it was upgraded to a warning for Charlotte and Northwest Lee County (around Boca Grande) until noon.

Walls said the rain bands associated with the storm could produce waterspouts or small tornadoes, with 2 to 4 inches of rain expected, and the possibility of flooding.

Meanwhile, the Skyway Bridge also closed Thursday afternoon due to high winds.

According to National Weather Center forecaster Charlie Paxton, the storm was expected to hit landfall late Thursday around the Big Bend area of Florida.

The threat for Cape Coral was for stronger cells moving toward the coast, Paxton said.

The strongest threat was expected to hit landfall by early afternoon, with the possibility of water spouts and tornadoes hitting land.

Winds were expected to produce gusts up to 35 mph

So while Andrea isn’t expected to pack a historic wallop on the area, don’t get too jaded or complacent, Walls said.

“Don’t go sightseeing, because if they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you never know,” Walls said. “Unfortunately, most of the deaths occur because they’re sightseeing and they want to play in the waves.”

For those waiting to hit the beach when the dewpoints finally drop, Walls said rainy season usually ends sometime in mid-October, though the exact time may wildly vary because, after all, it is still hurricane season.

“Because hurricane season lasts until Nov. 30, if we get a big rain producing storm, then it feels like rainy season continues,” Walls said.