Ana gained strength out at sea Friday and was to be expected to be officially named a tropical storm by Saturday morning. It is forecast to make landfall Sunday somewhere north of Georgetown. The Lowcountry coast will see more blasts of wind and rain, with gusts up to 45 mph as rain bands and squalls move through.
Conditions here will be similar to Friday, “squally, showery with some winds, mainly along the coast,” said meteorologist Bob Bright with the National Weather Service, Charleston. The worst of it is expected Saturday night into Sunday morning, and the farther up the coast, the stronger the storm will be, he said.
Gusts could be strong enough to bring down smaller or weaker trees limbs, according to the Weather Service. On Friday, the service had a report of a tree down on Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant.
The storm is expected to come within 70 miles of Charleston on Saturday, but will be off Georgetown at the time. A tropical storm watch remains in place Saturday for Charleston County coastal areas. Counties to the north will be under a tropical storm warning, an alert that a storm is expected.
A high surf advisory is in effect here through 6 p.m. Saturday, Bright said. Dangerous rip currents make swimming in the ocean risky, and the weather service advises against it. Waves will be 4 to 5 feet. Beaches have already been eaten into somewhat and are expected to erode more. But no severe erosion had been reported.
The threat of heavy rain and wind Saturday prompted the cancellation of events such as the Charleston Farmers Market, which typically draws hundreds of people to Marion Square. The event was canceled after city officials consulted with the Emergency Management Division and police department, according to the announcement.
People are advised to check with other event locations.
Ana could strengthen to marginal hurricane strength with 65 mph winds, said Jeff Masters of Weather Underground. But both he and Mark Malsick, S.C. Climate Office severe weather liaison, said it will be a weakening tropical storm at landfall.
At Myrtle Beach, “no swimming” red flags were posted due to rip currents and rough surf, said Mark Kruea, the city’s public information officer, on Friday. Trash barrels had been removed to keep them from getting blown around.
“Otherwise, we’re watching and alert,” he said. “We’ll keep an eye on Ana and make daily adjustments if needed. Everyone’s on standby.”