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Julia, 'Weirdest Tropical Storm of the Year,' Parks Off Atlantic Coast

Alex Johnson

Tropical Storm Julia, a small weather system parked along the southeastern Atlantic coast, wouldn't be especially noteworthy except for one thing: There's never been another storm like it — at least since record-keeping started.

First the basics: At 10 p.m. ET, Julia, the 10th named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, was about 50 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C. It was pushing maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving slowly east-northeast, the National Weather Service said.

Other than flood advisories for parts of the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, no tropical watches or warnings were in effect.

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But here's why Julia's notable: When it formed Tuesday night over the Jacksonville, Fla., area, it formed OVER the Jacksonville, Fla., area — the first time in recorded history that a tropical storm has formed over land in Florida.

Only about 2 percent of all tropical cyclones form over land, said TODAY meteorologist Dylan Dreyer. In fact, it's been 29 years since any tropical storm has formed over U.S. land anywhere — Beryl, which formed over southeastern Louisiana in 1988.

Other TCs have formed over land, but #Julia may be the first to spend zero time over water.#BrownOceanEffect

— Brian McNoldy (@BMcNoldy)

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The tropical system that became Julia was first spotted early this week in the Atlantic Ocean, and meandered toward Florida. It wasn't until it reached Jacksonville near midnight Tuesday that it developed consistent tropical storm-force winds of 39 while remaining an organized storm.

As unusual as that was, that met the criteria for a tropical storm, and the hurricane center duly named it Julia.

"Interaction with land is traditionally the kiss of death for tropical cyclones," said Eric Snitil, a meteorologist for NBC station WSFA of Montgomery, Ala., who declared Julia "winner of the weirdest tropical storm of the year award."

A Tropical Storm developing over land? Is the world as we know it breaking down? Not really...

— Eric Snitil (@EricSnitilWx)

But "Florida is essentially one big swamp without mountains," Snitil said. "If we can establish an environment with sufficient moisture and heat content, direct placement over water becomes unnecessary."

As for what's next, Julia is expected to creep along very slowly through the end of the week, essentially setting up light housekeeping along the Atlantic coast.

"Moving forward — this is not moving forward," said Kait Parker, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel. "We are going to see this kind of meander along the Atlantic coast — I'm going to say loitering. It's loitering here all the way through Friday."

#Julia moving very slowly, continues#SCwx to rotate moderate to heavy rain onshore.

— NWS Charleston, SC (@NWSCharlestonSC)

The National Weather Service said the storm could bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to the South Carolina coast and 2 to 4 inches near Savannah, Ga., with up to 10 inches in some isolated areas. It said heavy rainfall along the coast could create dangerous flash flooding, especially if it hits around high tide.