Tropical Storm Andrea is pictured in the Gulf of Mexico in this June 5, 2013, NOAA handout satellite photo. Andrea, the first of the Atlantic storm season, formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and was expected to become a hurricane within 48 hours, the US National Hurricane Center said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
MIAMI (AFP) - Tropical Storm Andrea, the first of the Atlantic storm season, formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and was expected to become a hurricane within 48 hours, the US National Hurricane Center said.
"This system has a high chance - near 100 per cent - of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours," the Miami-based NHC warned, with the storm forecast to hit the US state of Florida.
The storm earlier produced driving rains in Cuba's westernmost Pinar del Rio province and led authorities to evacuate more than 1,000 people from low-lying areas.
The Atlantic hurricane season started June 1 and runs through Nov 30.
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MIAMI (AFP) - Tropical storm Andrea churned towards Florida on Thursday with the threat of heavy rains and tornadoes, after damaging crops in Cuba and forcing the evacuation of some 2,600 people.
As of midday, the first named storm of the Atlantic season packed maximum winds of 95 kmh as it moved north-east at 22 kmh.
It was 255km west of Tampa and expected to pick up speed over the course of the day, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami said, adding that Andrea carried the potential for whipping up tornadoes in central and southern Florida.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said this hurricane season - it runs from June 1 to November 30 - will be particularly busy, with up to 20 tropical storms and as many as 11 hurricanes - and up to six of them intense.