Beachgoers and tourists alike have been warned to stay away from the Carolina coastal region as emergency management officials continue to keep a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Ana as it nears the Carolinas. Heaping rough weather upon the beautiful and frequented visited coastal region, this storm comes in weeks ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Ana was centered approximately 20 miles southeast of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as of 2 a.m. Sunday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (located at the Florida International University in Miami, Florida). They have stated that the maximum sustained winds have weakened to 50 mph as it approached the coastline at about 5 mph.
Winds were gusting to nearly 60 mph in Southport, North Carolina, a coastline just north of Myrtle Beach on Saturday evening as the storm approached. Schools along the Carolina coastline were monitoring the storm as weekend commencements for many of them may be disrupted by Mother Nature. Ceremonies scheduled for Brooks Stadium on Saturday at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina had to be moved indoors as a precautionary measure.
The North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety placed into effect a “no swimming” warning for all areas of the beach, stating the waves posed extreme conditions that were unsafe for the public. New Hanover County, North Carolina is cautioning tourists with plans to visit to be careful and watchful of the weather conditions.
“Beachgoers are encouraged to use extreme caution this weekend,” said Warren Lee, Director of New Hanover County Emergency Management. “With the elevated risk of rip currents, the best advice is to stay out of the water when the risk for rip currents is the highest and comply with any advisories given by lifeguards.”
Hurricane Specialist Stacy Stewart, said dangerous surf and rip tides are typically the biggest threat from Atlantic hurricanes, although flooding in some of the other coastal areas can also be a concern.
The center stated that the “tropical storm warning” that has been placed in effect extends from the southern part of the Santee River in South Carolina to Cape Lookout, North Carolina, with 1 to 3 inches of rain expected over a wide area and up to 5 inches in isolated areas. They also said that the storm could push water 1 to 2 feet above normal tidal levels, which may cause some localized flooding.