Tropical Storm Tammy formed just off Florida's east coast Wednesday and could bring tornadoes, heavy rains and coastal erosion to northern Florida and parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.
Tammy, with winds of 40 mph, was centered about 20 miles east of Cape Canaveral at 7:30 a.m. and was moving to the north-northwest at 16 mph. It is expected to parallel the coast and gradually slow its forward motion.
"Tammy is a minimal tropical storm," said Steve Letro, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. "The forecast movement will keep the worst of the weather offshore."
Robbie Berg, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said because Tammy will spend so little time over water, it is unlikely that it will reach hurricane strength of 74 mph.
A tropical storm warning has been issued from Cocoa Beach north to Santee River, S.C., meaning tropical storm conditions are expected in those areas within the next 24 hours.
The path "is going to be very similar to Ophelia," Letro said, referring to the storm in early September that hugged the coast for days before coming ashore in North Carolina as a hurricane. "Hopefully this will be a 24-hour thing."
Berg said it is hard to forecast where Tammy will make landfall because it is moving parallel to the coast "and one slight variation in its track could bring it onshore."
Rainfall is expected to be 3 to 5 inches in most areas with some isolated spots getting from 8 to 10 inches. High tides are expected to be 2 to 3 feet above normal. Tornadoes are also possible.
Tammy is the 19th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.
This season is tied for second-busiest on record since record-keeping started in 1851. The record for tropical storms and hurricanes in one year is 21, set in 1933.