The first named subtropical storm of the season is drifting slowly towards the coast of the Carolinas and is expected to make landfall mid-day Sunday between Charleston and Myrtle Beach.
Subtropical Storm Ana is expected to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to coastal North Carolina through the weekend but will likely cause only scattered showers in the Triangle.
Ana began as a strong low pressure system off Florida and took on subtropical qualities as it moved over warm waters, said Gail Hartfield, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. On Friday morning, the weather service issued a tropical storm warning for the coast from Surf City south to the South Santee River in South Carolina.
Hartfield characterized Ana as relatively weak Friday afternoon and expected to weaken even more as it approaches land.
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Ana was drifting slowly to the northwest at around 1 mph. About 2 inches of rain is expected east of the Interstate 95 corridor during the weekend, with as much as 4 inches falling in spots between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach.
Ana is forecasted to bring winds between 20 and 30 mph, with frequent gusts of 40 mph to the coast as it moves up from Myrtle Beach toward Jacksonville.
The storm is expected to head inland toward Fayetteville by Monday morning.
“I expect by Monday night, we will be saying goodbye to this thing,” Hartfield said.
Ana’s impact on the Triangle is expected to be minimal.
“Nothing out of the usual for spring time in North Carolina,” Hartfield said. “If you didn’t know there was a subtropical storm, you wouldn’t think anything of it.”
A strong rip current and high surf with 4- to 8-foot waves are expected as far north as Jacksonville. Some coastal erosion may occur from the southern Outer Banks to Charleston, S.C.
“It’s not the best weekend to go down to the coast,” Hartfield said. “People think it’s a great surf, but that could be very dangerous.”
Although hurricane season does not start until June 1, Hartfield said it’s not unprecedented to have tropical storms this early. In May 2012, North Carolina had two storms.
“It’s not bellwether of how the rest of the season is going to go,” she said.