MIAMI (AFP) - Tropical storm Andrea churned towards Florida on Thursday with the threat of heavy rains and tornadoes, after damaging crops in Cuba and forcing the evacuation of some 2,600 people.
As of midday, the first named storm of the Atlantic season packed maximum winds of 95 kmh as it moved north-east at 22 kmh.
It was 255km west of Tampa and expected to pick up speed over the course of the day, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami said, adding that Andrea carried the potential for whipping up tornadoes in central and southern Florida.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said this hurricane season - it runs from June 1 to November 30 - will be particularly busy, with up to 20 tropical storms and as many as 11 hurricanes - and up to six of them intense.
In Cuba, rain fell for a seventh-straight day on Thursday, as Andrea moved away from the island's western tip after forcing the evacuation of 2,600 people.
Some 30 villages were cut off by water, and in one hamlet more than 200 houses were submerged, the official newspaper Granma said.
The storm also caused crop damage that is still being tallied, it added.