1st tropical storm of season forms in Gulf

MIAMI (WCIV/AP) -- The first named storm of the 2013 hurricane season has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Hurricane Center on Wednesday gave the storm system in the Gulf of Mexico a 60 percent chance of developing into a tropical system. It developed into a tropical storm Wednesday afternoon.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the coast of South Carolina and Georgia.

Forecasters say heavy rain could spread across much of South Carolina over the next several days as moisture from Tropical Storm Andrea combines with a lingering cold front.

The National Weather Service says 2 to 4 inches of rain could fall across much of the state through Saturday. The heaviest rains are expected near the coast, where the center of Andrea is expected to move.

The heavy rains come after an especially wet spring, and forecasters say flooding is a distinct possibility. They are asking people to keep an eye on the weather over the next few days.

According to the NHC, the low pressure system in place over the Gulf has produced a large area of thunderstorms and winds near gale force over the area.

Radar imagery shows that circulation is poorly defined currently, but the NHC is sending in a Hurricane Hunters plane to investigate the disturbance Wednesday afternoon. At present, forecasters for the National Weather Service say this storm system has the potential to develop into a tropical depression or storm before it moved across northern Florida late Thursday.

Heavy rains and gusty winds are being forecast for the Florida peninsula for the rest of Wednesday and into Thursday night. Isolated tornadoes are also possible, the weather agency said.

Storm tracks carry the storm through the Lowcountry on Friday.

The National Weather Service is advising people to prepare now for the flooding, winds and heavy rains associated with the storm.

If you need help making survival kits, the PinPoint Hurricane Center has plenty of information on what to do before, during and after a major tropical storm.