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Rare Tropical Storm Forms Over Land In Northern Florida

Tropical Storm Julia formed in the area around Jacksonville, Fla., on Tuesday night. It's now moving through Georgia, bringing heavy rain and the threat of flooding.

The 10th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was an odd one: When the National Weather Service announced the formation of Tropical Storm Julia in northeastern Florida on Tuesday night, it marked one of the few known instances of such a storm developing over land rather than open water.

"The formation of a tropical storm while the center of circulation is over land is a bit unusual, but not unprecedented," Dennis Feltgen of the National Weather Service tells NPR. "It last occurred in 1988 with Beryl over southeastern Louisiana. In both cases, most of the circulation was over water, and the center of circulation was very close to it."

When asked whether people should expect to see more tropical storms form over land, Feltgen replied, "There is no reason to believe this would become a common occurrence."

The coordinates the NWS used to describe the location when it announced Julia's formation last night put the storm inside the I-295 loop that surrounds Jacksonville, Fla.

Julia was elevated to a named storm because it maintained consistent organization and packed winds of more than 39 mph. While those wind speeds can be dangerous, the slow-moving storm also brings the threat of flooding.

The most serious warnings about Julia were downgraded after the storm weakened on Wednesday morning. But it's still bringing heavy rain and rough conditions to the Atlantic coastline, including record rainfall at St. Simons Island, where 4.43 inches fell Tuesday.

The storm is now moving up along the coast, pushing a thick band of rain ahead of it.

Georgia Public Broadcasting's Emily Jones reports for our Newscast unit:

"Forecasters are still predicting 3 to 6 inches of rain will fall — with as much as 10 inches possible in some areas. A flash flood watch is in effect for much of the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

"Forecasters say an isolated tornado is possible in coastal Georgia and South Carolina as well. Emergency management officials in the area say roads will likely flood. The storm already brought some isolated flooding and power outages to the southern Georgia coast overnight."

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