Hurricane center updates storm

Surfers catch the waves in the rain at Folly Beach late this morning.

A storm more than 100 miles off the coast continued to pelt the Lowcountry with rain and winds Thursday afternoon, as a “hurricane hunter” aircraft reported no sign of a tropical cyclone, yet.

National Weather Service, Charleston forecasters continued to call for the storm to “wobble” off the coast at least through Saturday into Sunday, pouring rain and wind on coastal counties, after it moved overnight from Florida to waters off Charleston. Over the long range, it’s expected to move north or northwest, with possible landfall in North Carolina.

By early afternoon heavy rain bands were coming in and inland winds were as high as 30 mph, said meteorologist John Quagliariello with the weather service.

The hurricane hunter reported 40-50 mph winds at the surface more than 100 miles offshore, but did not find a center of circulation that defines a tropical cyclone, said Jeff Masters of Weather Underground.

“Environmental conditions are favorable for some additional development, and any increase in the organization of the associated thunderstorm activity would result in the formation of a subtropical cyclone,” the hurricane center reported at 1:45 p.m. “Regardless of development, heavy rain is expected over portions of the coastal southeastern United States for the next few days.”

Gale warnings were now in effect in nearshore waters, where winds were reported more than 40 mph. Waves were estimated at 3 feet in the harbor and as high as 9 feet offshore. Mariners were cautioned to remain in port.

The Coast Guard had to pull a man and woman out of the water just before 10 a.m. after their boat hit the jetties off the coast of Charleston. Waves drove the Sunshine, a 36-foot sailing vessel, up against the rocks, which put a hole in its hull. Both boaters were wearing life jackets. A Coast Guard boat crew threw them a line and pulled them aboard. No injuries were reported.

The weather system that’s been moving north from the Bahamas is expected to create high waves and strong rip currents through today and tomorrow as it moves past Charleston.

A high rip current remains in effect through tonight, and a high surf advisory is in effect through 6 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather service.

“No one should enter the surf due to life-threatening rip currents,” according to the advisory. “Everyone should remain out of the water.”

Despite the warning, surfers have been in the water at Folly Beach all day catching the waves.

Waves could build to 4 to 5 feet later today and into Friday near shore and 8 to 9 feet farther offshore.

The waves could cause some beach erosion tonight.

Rain is expected to continue throughout the day, possibly heavy at times. Any flooding in downtown Charleston would likely occur at high tide, which is shortly after 11 a.m. and around 11:30 p.m.

The chance of rain is 90 percent this afternoon and 60 percent tonight, with up to a half an inch possible, according to the weather service. The afternoon high should be near 73.

More rain is likely Friday through Sunday. The chance of rain is 60 percent Friday, 30 percent Saturday and 40 percent Sunday.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.