CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Tropical Storm Bonnie formed Saturday afternoon off the coast of South Carolina as heavy rains from the system ruined the start of the long holiday weekend.
Top sustained winds reached 45 mph Saturday night, hours after Bonnie became the season’s second named tropical storm, four days before the official start of hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The center of Bonnie was about 130 miles (205 kilometers) from Charleston as of 11 p.m. EDT, the Miami-based center said. Bonnie had stalled off the coast but was expected to move toward land overnight. A tropical storm warning was issued for the entire South Carolina coast.
The worst of the rain and wind was ahead of the storm, which was expected to near the coast south of Charleston on Sunday, then turn to the northeast and slowly dissipate as it moves along the coast of the Carolinas over the rest of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, forecasters said.
Heavy rain and dangerous surf kept people off beaches in Georgia, South Carolina and southern North Carolina. No evacuations have been ordered, with forecasters saying the biggest danger will likely be from locally heavy rain.
Officials in Charleston were monitoring winds. The area has 15 bridges over water that are at least 65-feet tall and are closed when winds get 40 mph or above.
Near Myrtle Beach, authorities said they were worried mostly about heavy rain causing dangerous driving conditions as thousands of bikers make their annual trip to the area for a motorcycle rally.
An isolated tornado or two will be possible late Saturday and early Sunday over the immediate coastal region from central South Carolina through southern North Carolina, forecasters say.
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.
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