Tropical Storm Arthur strengthening off Florida coast

In this handout from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), A tropical depression moves off the coast of Florida on July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur may ultimately become Hurricane Authur and posibbly strike the North Carolina Outer Banks over the Fourth of July holiday.  (Handout, NOAA via Getty Images)
Tropical Storm Arthur may ultimately become Hurricane Authur and posibbly strike the North Carolina Outer Banks over the Fourth of July holiday. (Handout, NOAA via Getty Images)
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Updated: 7/01 1:02 pm

MIAMI (AP) — With a holiday weekend on the horizon, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday that the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is gradually becoming more powerful off the coast of Florida.

Tropical Storm Arthur formed Tuesday off the state's central coast. A tropical storm watch is in effect from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach, with tropical storm conditions possible through Wednesday afternoon.

The storm is moving northwest at five mph. Forecasters expect Arthur's center to remain just offshore and turn to the north and east into Wednesday. Forecasters predict rain across Florida and life-threatening surf and rip currents.

Maximum sustained winds Tuesday afternoon were about 40 mph. The storm was centered about 90 miles east-southeast of Cape Canaveral.

From Florida to the Carolinas, officials and hotel owners say they're not yet seeing many vacation cancellations or other scrambling.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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