CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Bonnie soaked the coasts of South Carolina, southeastern North Carolina and eastern Georgia, ruining the start of Memorial Day weekend even as it weakened while moving northward.
Top sustained winds of the season's second-named tropical storm decreased to 40 miles per hour Sunday morning, four days before the official start of hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The center of Bonnie, which was stationary Saturday night, was about 60 miles (95 kilometers) southeast of Charleston and 115 miles (185 kilometers) south-southwest of Myrtle Beach as of 5 a.m. EDT, the Miami-based center said in an advisory. Bonnie was moving north at 8 mph (13 kph) and tropical storm warnings remained in effect for the entire South Carolina coast.
Heavy rain and dangerous surf kept people off the Georgia, South Carolina and southern North Carolina beaches on Saturday. No evacuations have been ordered, with forecasters saying the biggest danger will likely be from locally heavy rain.
Officials in Charleston were monitoring the winds. The area has 15 bridges over water than are at least 65-feet tall that are closed when winds get 40 mph or above.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the South Carolina coast and forecasters said an isolated tornado or two will be possible early Sunday over the immediate coastal region from central South Carolina through southern North Carolina. The storm is expected to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain across much of the area this weekend, with 6 inches possible in some spots.
Near Myrtle Beach, authorities said they were worried mostly about heavy rain causing dangerous driving conditions as thousands of bikers and their motorcycles make their annual trip to the area.
The first Atlantic storm of 2016 was Hurricane Alex, which made an unseasonable debut in January over the far eastern Atlantic. The storm was the first hurricane to form in the Atlantic in January since 1938 and made landfall in the Azores on Jan. 15.