Published: 2015-05-09 11:54:00
Updated: 2015-05-10 08:53:05
Posted May 9, 2015
Updated May 10, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — After drifting slowly up the East Coast for several days, a weakened Tropical Storm Ana made landfall about 6 a.m. Sunday near Myrtle Beach, S.C.
"It will continue to be a slow mover for the next 24 hours," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
A tropical storm warning remains in effect from Cape Lookout, N.C., to South Santee River, S.C., but is expected to expire Sunday evening. Other areas in North Carolina to Virginia are encouraged to monitor the storm's progress.
The warning means that tropical storm conditions – rain, gusty winds and strong, dangerous rip currents – are expected.
Ana, which is the first named storm of 2015, formed nearly a month before the Atlantic Hurricane season officially kicks off. The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. In the eastern Pacific, it begins May 15 and ends Nov. 30.
Late Saturday evening, Ana was centered about 85 miles south of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and moving slowly at 5 mph. The storm was packing maximum winds of 60 mph. It came ashore with winds of 45 mph.
By 8 a.m. Sunday, winds were down to 40 mph as the center of the storm pushed about 15 miles inland, according to the National Hurricane Center.
WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said Ana was expected to weaken a bit before making landfall because of cool water temperatures near the coast.
"Once it is over land, it will become a tropical depression as it makes its way through North Carolina," he said.
The storm is expected to turn north Sunday, followed by a turn northeast with a gradual increase in forward speed Monday.
"It becomes a post-tropical system as we head into the next 12 to 24 hours," Gardner said.
The remnants of the storm should reach the Triangle around 2 a.m. Monday with winds of about 35 mph. At that speed, the winds won't be enough to cause damage, Gardner said, although they could blow around lawn furniture, garbage cans and other unsecured items.
Rain is a concern because the system is moving so slowly and won't clear out quickly. Ana is expected to deliver 1 to 4 inches of rain near the coast over the weekend. Flood watches are in effect for Pender, New Hanover, Columbus and Horry counties through Sunday afternoon. Isolated tornadoes are possible in the coastal region as the storm fades.
Forecasters are also warning people to avoid dangerous surf and rip currents being kicked up by the storm.
"Beach-goers are encouraged to use extreme caution this weekend," Warren Lee, director of New Hanover County Emergency Management 911 Communications, said in a statement. "With the elevated risk of rip currents, the best advice is to stay out of the water when the risk for rip currents in the highest."
No storm-related injuries have been reported.
Officials with Carolina Beach State Park announced the park's campground would close early at 3 p.m. Saturday and remain closed through Sunday because of the storm. The park will stay open unless conditions deteriorate.
In the Triangle, rain chances will increase throughout Sunday, with the bulk of the region likely to see at least some showers as the storm pushes through. The area will see up to a half-inch of rain from the system.
"This storm is very compact, so most of the rain associated with it is right around the center of the circulation and not widespread," Gardner said.
By Monday afternoon, Ana's remnants will begin pushing into southern Virginia.
Sunshine will return to the Triangle on Tuesday as highs climb to 90 degrees.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.