Parts of the Carolinas are about to get drenched as the first named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season trudged toward the U.S. coastline. Subtropical Storm Ana, which strengthened Thursday night, is expected to bring heavy rain, wind gusts of over 40 miles per hour, high surf and coastal flooding to the shores between Edisto Beach, South Carolina, and the Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.
The storm was centered about 170 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Friday morning and was moving northwest at a snail’s pace – just 2 miles per hour. Meteorologists expect the storm to reach the northern coast of South Carolina by Sunday. “The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters,” the weather agency said. The water could rise between one and 2 feet above normal heights, according to weather experts. Rain, heavy surf and swells were reported along both Carolina coasts Friday.
Naming storms this early in May is rare; the Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1. Ana developed early Thursday and was centered about 230 miles southeast of the South Carolina-North Carolina border. Weather experts said it had an 80 percent chance of strengthening to become a tropical storm. The storm system was given a name after its surface winds topped 40 miles per hour and its circulation became organized, according to the Weather Channel.
The storm is expected to weaken slightly before reaching the U.S. coastline, so its landfall won’t be as intense compared to previous subtropical storms. "While people should stay out of the water along the Carolina and Georgia coasts in this situation, this will be a storm for people to think of what they need to do for hurricane preparation for the upcoming season," said AccuWeather.com’s Dan Kottlowski.
The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be relatively mild. Weather experts predict seven named storms, including three hurricanes – three fewer hurricanes than the 30-year average.