Tropical Storm Andrea — the first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season — weakened considerably as it made landfall Thursday night, but it still packed enough punch to drench Florida and was expected to bring heavy rain to much of the East Coast through Saturday.
Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for coastal areas from Flagler, Fla., to Cape Charles Light in Virginia, but they were canceled for inland areas and Florida's Gulf Coast, the National Weather Service said early Friday. Maximum sustained winds — which hit 65 mph at landfall near the "Big Bend" area, about 35 miles northwest of Cedar Key, Fla. — dropped to 45 mph as the storm moved inland.
The waning storm was forecast to lose its tropical characteristics as early as Friday night as it moved across northern Florida on a path toward southeastern Georgia and the Carolinas before heading north. It was still expected to be a strong conventional storm system, however.
Andrea's outer bands still carried very heavy rain, which caused flooding across South Florida.
By later Friday, the storm was expected to affect major inland cities, including Washington and Philadelphia, bringing rain that could produce flooding, the National Weather Service said.
Heavily populated cities lie in the warning area that remains: the Tampa Bay area and Jacksonville in Florida; Charleston and tourist-packed Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; Wilmington and the heavily visited Outer Banks in North Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Newport News, Va.
New York activated its flash flood plan — with possible alerts via mobile phone — and issued a hazardous travel advisory as moderate to heavy rain was expected through early Saturday.
At least six possible tornadoes were reported Thursday in Florida, said Greg Forbes, a severe weather specialist for The Weather Channel.
A tornado that ripped through Loxahatchee, Fla., damaging homes and tossing an 88-year-old woman from her bed. The fall broke both her legs, her son, Tim Kepler, told NBC station WPTV of West Palm Beach.
"A large oak tree twisted up like popsicle sticks," Kepler said. "It was just complete devastation."
Kepler's mother underwent surgery Thursday night and was expected to recover," Kepler said.
"It's always somebody else. It's always them," he said. "Well, today it's us," he said.
In the Acreage area of Palm Beach County, Lacey Mitten and her children, Sage, 11 and Hannah, 8, huddled in a bathtub as a probable tornado roared through her neighborhood, damaging her home.
"My sister and I just looked at each other. It sounded like a freight train," Mitten told NBCMiami.com. "We just got in the bathtub and held on."
M. Alex Johnson of NBC News contributed to this report.