MIAMI — With a holiday weekend looming, the first named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season formed off the central Florida coast Tuesday, but Arthur wasn’t yet packing much of a punch.
The storm was forecast to produce 1 to 3 inches of rain across the state’s eastern peninsula and expected to strengthen over the next 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Florida’s east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach.
Forecasters say the storm could bring rain to New England by the Fourth of July.
In Daytona Beach, red flags flew on lifeguard stands to warn swimmers of hazardous conditions. By mid-day, a dozen swimmers had been aided by lifeguards when they got caught in a rip current. On any given day, 15 to 20 swimmers need help, said Tammy Marris, a spokeswoman for the Volusia County Beach Patrol.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds were about 40 mph, according to the hurricane center. It was centered about 95 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral and was moving northwest at 2 mph.