(CNN) — High winds and soaking rain started to fall on Florida as Tropical Storm Andrea neared the swampy Big Bend on Thursday, but Floridians sounded unimpressed.
The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, Andrea was already whipping up gusts as high as 48 mph in St. Petersburg, the National Hurricane Center reported. But forecasters said Andrea won’t spend enough time over the Gulf of Mexico to develop into a hurricane before it makes a projected landfall in the crook of the state’s west coast.
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., none of her private class clients had called to cancel.
“They’re dedicated,” Carpenter said.
Across town at Mike’s Liquor and Beer Barn, the delivery trucks arrived earlier than usual Wednesday morning.
“We’ll see an upswing” in business during the morning, owner Mike Raynor said. “But I think it’s not gonna be anything special, nothing real bad. It’s been so long since Tallahassee had a storm. Today I think people are just now realizing it’s coming.”
At 11 a.m. Thursday, Andrea was 110 miles west of Tampa and headed northeast at 15 mph, the Hurricane Center said. Its top winds were 60 mph.
“No significant change in strength is expected before the center reaches the coast later today,” forecasters reported. “Some weakening is forecast tonight and early Friday while the center of Andrea moves over land.”
Tropical storm-force winds over 39 mph stretched more than 140 miles from the eye of the storm. Tropical storm warnings stretched from Boca Grande, near Fort Myers, to Indian Pass, near Apalachicola.
The storm is expected to travel across land and up the East Coast as well, so tropical storm warnings were also posted from Flagler Beach, Florida, about 70 miles south of Jacksonville, to the southern reaches of Chesapeake Bay.
Andrea could bring storm surges of two to five feet along the a stretch of the Gulf Coast from Apalachicola to Tampa Bay, a sparsely populated region dominated by marshland. One- to two-foot surges have been projected in other areas.
The main threat from Andrea will be torrential rain, which will cause flooding across the northern half of Florida, especially along the west coast. Rainfall totals could be as high as six inches, and weak tornadoes could also be spawned by the storm as it moves across the state.
Compared to the violent tornadoes that touched down recently in Oklahoma and caused devastating damage, tornadoes spawned by tropical systems are usually relatively weak and only touch down briefly, causing scattered damage.
Andrea is expected to cross southeastern Georgia, bringing as much as eight inches of rain in some areas, and continue into the Carolinas. The he eastern parts of North and South Carolina could see up to four inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center said.
“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 center.
CNN meteorologists Sean Morris and Ivan Cabrera, and CNN’s Holly Yan and Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.