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    Tropical downpours and coastal threats in the Carolinas start today

    By By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist, AccuWeather.com
    May 25, 2010, 7:06:06 AM EDT

    An area of low pressure north of the Bahamas will head closer to the Carolinas today, while AccuWeather.com meteorologists continue to monitor it for potential tropical development. Whether it develops into the first named storm of the year or not, there will be some impact on the Southeast the next several days.

    Fortunately, it still appears that the storm will be forced away from the Southeast coast by a cold front in time for the holiday weekend.

    However, if you are traveling this week and visiting eastern Florida or the Carolinas, you should pay close attention to the potential for storm development and threats like dangerous rip currents.

    Impacts on the Southeast

    Rounds of stormy weather will hit the Southeast coast today into Thursday as the low approaches and makes a loop in the western Atlantic. Beaches will also be impacted by gusty winds, rough surf and dangerous rip currents.


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    Rounds of locally drenching showers and gusty storms will brush the eastern Carolinas today into Wednesday. The heaviest rain will likely fall this afternoon and tonight.

    Downpours will also reach southeastern Georgia and northeastern Florida Wednesday and Wednesday night, including in Savannah and Jacksonville.

    Gusty onshore winds of 25-25 mph, higher-than-normal tides and rip currents will adversely impact the Southeast coast today through Wednesday. There could be some minor and spotty coastal flooding as well as minor beach erosion.

    Charleston, S.C., is among the coastal cities that could deal with minor flooding. Flooding begins in the Charleston Harbor when water levels reach 7 feet, and waves could be around 8 feet there. Some low-lying roads may be covered by ocean overwash in Charleston and other areas, forcing officials to close them.


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    Surfers and early season beach-goers should heed the warnings of lifeguards and should never swim alone.

    While wave heights will be diminishing Thursday into Friday, there will still be the threat of rip currents.

    Even beaches as far away as New Jersey and Long Island can feel the impacts in terms of rough surf and rip currents.

    Impacts on Bermuda

    Clouds, bursts of rain and strong winds will continue lashing Bermuda through at least the first part of today as the low drifts closer to the Carolinas.

    Rough surf will continue to impact the island, especially along the southern shoreline, for the next several days.

    As the storm loops back out over the Atlantic later in the week, Bermuda could take a more direct hit with more tropical downpours and gale-force winds.

    More on the Potential Development

    The area of low pressure will keep moving west-northwestward toward the Carolinas today, and it is not expected to strengthen much. While the low is over sufficiently warm water for tropical development, there is strong enough wind shear that should keep the system from strengthening much.

    The most likely scenario is that the low takes on both tropical and non-tropical characteristics, making it a "hybrid" storm.

    Hybrid systems can be named as subtropical storms or depressions. Subtropical Storm Andrea, for example, formed in early May of 2007 off the Southeast coast. The first name on the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season list is Alex.

    The Path of Movement

    The low will first move closest to the Carolinas today into Wednesday before it makes a loop toward northern Florida by Wednesday night or Thursday, before heading back out to sea.

    At the low's closest, it will come within a couple hundred miles of the Southeast coast.

    The low could end up stalling east of the Carolinas instead of making a loop, but it should still leave before the long weekend.

    A cold front dropping southward in the East will be the mechanism that forces the system to move away from the southeastern United States in time for holiday vacationers.

    Related to the Story: Southeast Radar Southeast Satellite Tropical Weather Center Visit our Facebook Fan Page Follow us on Twitter Breaking Weather Southeast Weather with Frank Strait

    Meteorologist Heather Buchman contributed to this story.

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