Subtropical storm might linger in Lowcountry through next week

A storm off the Bahamas could linger over the Lowcountry this weekend through early next week, kicking up high surf and winds.

A storm off the Bahamas was gusting and starting to whirl Tuesday as forecasters scrambled to figure out if it will turn toward the Carolinas. The National Hurricane Center upped the chance to 40 percent that the storm will become at least a subtropical system and called for it to move gradually north.

Meanwhile, a few computer models began to suggest that if the storm does approach the Lowcountry, it will take its time moving on.

Meteorologist Shea Gibson, a Weatherflow.com forecaster, said the way the storm is interacting with a high pressure system in the ocean northeast of Charleston indicates it’s likely to be nudged inland or right along the coastline here. Clouds that began covering Charleston on Tuesday were being pushed by the storm, he said.

“Whether or not it reaches us is going to be up to the high pressure,” Gibson said. “I think it will be a slow mover, for sure.” Now expected to reach the Lowcountry sometime Friday or Saturday, the storm could remain in the area until Monday or Tuesday, he said.

National Weather Service, Charleston, meteorologist James Carpenter agreed that’s a possibility, but said, “I think we still need to get a little closer (to the day) to see what’s actually going to happen.”

At least one computer forecast continued to predict the storm will be pushed out to sea.

Mark Malsick, S.C. Climate Office severe weather liaison, said that if the storm does move toward shore that cooler water and dry air ought to keep it from getting very much stronger.

“At this point we’re still not extremely concerned about the impact,” said meteorologist Jonathan Lamb, National Weather Service, Charleston. High surf, rip currents, modest coastal flooding and rain are expected, depending on where the storm goes, he said.

Winds could arrive Friday, “if we have winds to worry about,” Lamb said. Surf could begin kicking up Wednesday and be at its highest Thursday into Friday.

A subtropical storm is a storm that has some tropical cyclone whirling characteristics, but isn’t as strong as the 39 mph winds that mark a tropical storm. At less than 40 mph, winds do little damage beyond breaking loose old or small limbs.

National Hurricane Center

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