Wind, rain expected to hang into weekend

Surfers took advantage of a storm out in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday to catch bigger-than-normal waves at Folly Beach.

The Lowcountry officially has its first named storm system of the season — Subtropical Storm Ana.

However, just because meteoroligists named it, it doesn’t mean residents should panic, according to Frank Alsheimer with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

“We’re not expecting a whole lot,” he said Thursday night. “(It’s) not expected to be a widespread flooding type of a storm.”

The worst of the weather was likely felt Thursday as storms churned 100 miles offshore before continuing a wobbly slog to the north and turning into a tropical cyclone.

But the weekend still looks windy and soggy.

After winds rose to 30 mph and a band of prolonged heavy rain dropped nearly an inch in downtown Charleston, National Weather Service forecasters said no more than that amount of rain was expected to fall for the rest of the storm.

Conditions should improve starting Friday, but rain and winds aren’t leaving in a hurry, forecasters said.

“It looks like it’s going to be there through the weekend,” said meteorologist Bob Bright, also with the Weather Service. “I still think there’s a chance we could see some more (heavy rain) but probably not worse.”

Forecaster Shea Gibson, with weatherflow.com, said, “Little movement over the next couple of days could easily keep some rain banding with a few squall-like conditions around intermittently.”

Areas to the north of Charleston might see heavier rain, Bright said. The forecast for Myrtle Beach had winds and heavy rain persisting through the weekend. Computer models on Thursday began to suggest a dissipated storm eventually will come ashore in South Carolina.

The Weather Service in Charleston kept a high rip current risk in place through Friday evening and gale warnings until Friday afternoon, cautioning people and mariners to stay on land.

Rip currents are abrupt, powerful surges out to sea. They tend to occur when shore current, or undertow along the beach, is strong.

A section of Ashley Avenue flooded at midday near the Medical University of South Carolina after the deluge of rain.

But tropical cyclone veteran Lowcountry residents appeared to be taking it all in stride. No school closings or event postponements were announced Thursday. The Charleston Greek Festival Spring planned to go ahead under the tents from Friday through Sunday.

Folly Beach surfers reported nice sets of waves coming in, no serious erosion, but “tons of drift” kicking up potential rip currents, said Chad Davis of Ocean Surf Shop. By Friday, though, the waves were expected to have started dying down, he said.

The Coast Guard had to pull a man and woman out of the water just before 10 a.m. Thursday, after their boat hit the jetties in the shipping channel off Charleston Harbor.

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.

Alsheimer said despite the storm dying down, it is expected to be a bad weekend for beachgoers or boaters.