UPDATE 7 (6:05 p.m. 6/6/13):
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Tropical Storm Andrea made landfall in Dixie County about 10 miles south of Steinhatchee at 5:40 p.m.
At the time of landfall, the system had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
Andrea is moving northeast at 17 mph.
UPDATE 6 (3:30 p.m. 6/6/13):
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Tropical Storm Andrea was located about 100 miles east-southeast of Apalachicola.
Andrea was continuing to gain forward speed and was moving toward the northeast at 19 mph.
According to Taylor County Emergency Management, landfall is expected near Horseshoe Beach in Dixie County around 5 p.m. this evening (Thursday). Winds during landfall are expected to increase to 50-55 mph sustained and gusting to possibly 65 mph.
These increased winds are predicted to primarily affect Steinhatchee and Taylor County’s southern coastline, officials said.
Taylor County’s Emergency Response Team is encouraging coastal residents to seek shelter within interior portions of their homes. Residents should continue to listen for additional updates.
UPDATE 5 (1 p.m. 6/6/13):
Tropical Storm Andrea’s forecasted track is shifting eastward, with officials now calling for the system to make landfall in the eastern Big Bend around 5 p.m. today (Thursday).
As of the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) 11 a.m. advisory, the center of the storm was located 110 miles south-southeast of Apalachicola, moving northeast at 15 mph.
NHC’s forecast cone showed the most likely landfall site for the storm being somewhere in southern Taylor County or Dixie County.
The combination of storm surge and tides may cause surge to reach up to 2-4 feet in Apalachee Bay and rain is forecasted at 3-5 inches with isolated pockets capable of reaching up to 10 inches in the next 18 hours. Tropical Storm force winds extend 140 miles from the center of Andrea and maximum sustained winds along the coast are expected to reach a peak of 57 mph around 3 p.m.
The Taylor County Commission declared a local state of emergency Thursday morning and also passed a resolution encouraging the voluntary evacuation of the coastal and low-lying areas of the county, particularly mobile home residents.
“The Emergency Management Department recommends that county residents move vehicles, trailers, and other property to higher elevations and indoors and to continue to monitor the progress of the storm,” Taylor County Emergency Management Director Dustin Hinkel said.
Shelters at Perry Elementary School (1600 E. Green Street) and the Family Center at Steinhatchee School will open at 2 p.m. for residents to protect themselves from winds. For further shelter information, call the American Red Cross at 850-223-4401.
Taylor County government offices, including the courthouse, will close at 1 p.m. today. Additionally, Taylor County schools closed at 12 noon. Although Tuesday was the last day for students, teachers are still working through the week.
“The Taylor County Emergency Operations Center has been activated to a “Level 2 – Partial Activation” and continues to monitor the storm and coordinate with the county’s departments and response partners to ensure the safety of all Taylor County residents,” Hinkel said.
UPDATE 4 (10:15 a.m. 6/6/13):
The Taylor County Commission declared a local state of emergency during a special meeting Thursday morning in response to the approaching Tropical Storm Andrea.
They also issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents along the coast and low lying areas, as well as residents in mobile homes due to the threat of tornados associated with the storm.
Red cross shelters at Taylor County Elementary School and Steinhatchee School will be on standby today to accommodate those who heed the evacuation order.
According to Taylor County Emergency Management Director Dustin Hinkel, who updated commissioners during the emergency meeting, forecasts are calling for three to four inches of rain with a projected storm surge of two to four feet along the coast.
The “window” for storm effects here is expected to be between 2 and 9 p.m., Hinkel said. This would put the worst of the storm arriving as the tide is receding this afternoon.
Peak sustained winds of 60 mph along the coast—especially in the southern portion of the county—and 45-55 mph inland could be felt for as long as three hours around 5 or 6 p.m.
“We’re measuring the wind event in hours, not minutes,” Hinkel said. “We’re recommending people prepare for a wind event and stay indoors this afternoon.”
With the center of the storm projected to make landfall around St. Marks, the chance for tornados in Taylor County could be actually less than it will be in the peninsula, Hinkel said.
The commission also authorized County Administrator Jack Brown to close the county courthouse early today should it be deemed necessary.
North Florida Community College announced that it was canceling classes starting after 12 noon today (including any NFCC classes held at off-campus locations) and would close its campus at 3 p.m. NFCC will resume its regular hours and classes on Monday, June 10, unless otherwise noted.
UPDATE 3 (8:50 a.m. 6/6/13):
Tropical Storm Andrea continues to bear down on the Big Bend region of Florida at 14 mph, according to the latest from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The NHC’s 8 a.m. (Thursday) update had the center of the storm was about 160 mph south of Apalachicola and was expected to make landfall later today.
The advisory warned of the potential of two to five feet of storm surge between Tampa Bay north to Apalachicola. According to Taylor County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Spradley, they are expected the worst effects of the storm to impact here between 12 noon and 2 p.m. Today’s high tide will be around 2 p.m.
Taylor County commissioners were expected to meet at 9:30 a.m. today to receive a briefing on the storm.
UPDATE 2 (7:25 a.m. 6/6/13):
Tropical Storm Andrea gained strength and increased its forward motion overnight Wednesday and into the early morning hours of Thursday as it approached the Big Bend coastline.
As of the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) 5 a.m. advisory (Thursday), Andrea has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. No significant strengthening is projected prior to the storm making landfall.
The center of the storm was located about 195 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola moving north-northeast at 13 mph.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles, primarily to the east of the center.
According to the forecast, a turn toward the northeast is expected coupled with an additional increase in forward speed. The center of Andrea is projected to reach the Big Bend coast later today (Thursday). All of Taylor County’s coast was included in the forecast cone as a possible landfall site.
UPDATE (7:05 p.m. 6/5/13):
Tropical Storm Andrea became the first named storm of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season Wednesday evening and Taylor County is under a tropical storm warning with the storm expected to make landfall in the Big Bend area Thursday afternoon or evening.
National Hurricane Center (NHC) officials discovered rotation near the center of a broad area of low pressure which had developed over the Gulf of Mexico, declaring Andrea the first system of the year.
As of the NHC’s 6 p.m. update (Wednesday), the storm boasted maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving toward the north near 3 mph.
According to NHC forecasts, a northeastward motion at a faster forward speed is expected on Thursday and that general motion should continue through Friday.
The center of Andrea is forecast to reach the coast of the Florida Big Bend on Thursday afternoon or evening, and then move over southeastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina Thursday night and Friday.
The tropical storm warning extends along the west coast of Florida from Boca Grande to Ochlockonee river.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is examining a broad area of low pressure over the central Gulf of Mexico which it gives a 50 percent chance of becoming a subtropical or tropical system during the next 48 hours.
“Although the thunderstorm activity associated with the low has increased overnight…the circulation remains poorly-defined,” the NHC said in an advisory Wednesday morning.
“Environmental conditions could become a little more conducive for development during the next day or so…and a tropical depression or storm could form before the system moves northeastward over Northern Florida late Thursday or Thursday night.
An air force reserve reconnaissance aircraft was scheduled to investigate this disturbance Wednesday afternoon “if necessary.”
Regardless of development, locally heavy rains and gusty winds are likely over portions of central and
western Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula during the next couple of days.
For additional information, visit http://www.nhc.noaa.gov.