Julia, the tropical storm expected to soak Georgia and South Carolina over the next few days, is probably the strangest storm of the year, forecasters say. Julia strengthened from a tropical system into a tropical storm a few miles west of Jacksonville, Fla., around midnight on Tuesday, marking the first time meteorologists have seen a tropical storm form over land in the state instead of offshore, NBC News reports. The last tropical storm to develop over land anywhere in the US was Beryl, which formed over southeast Louisiana in 1988, USA Today reports.
Tropical storms usually weaken, not strengthen over land, but Florida apparently only loosely meets the definition of "land": The state "is essentially one big swamp without mountains," and surface conditions 25 miles inland can be very similar to those 25 miles offshore, with plenty of moisture-rich air to power the storm, says meteorologist Eric Snitil at WSFA, giving Julia the award for "weirdest tropical storm of the year." Julia is expected to meander up the Atlantic coast over Thursday and Friday, bringing heavy rains and possibly flash floods to coastal areas drenched by Hermine two weeks ago, the AP reports. (Read more tropical storms stories.)