Rough stuff

Madeline, an English Setter, was dressed for the wet weather Monday with her raincoat and umbrella, as she and her owner, Eugenia Evans, took their afternoon walk down King Street. The stormy weather that has drenched the Lowcountry is expected to linger

Brad Nettles

Surf might be up today, but it's going to be rough.

A storm is spinning offshore while forecasters watch to see if it turns into a tropical storm. Meanwhile, there's a full moon waxing. The combination has the National Weather Service, Charleston, calling for a high risk of rip currents through today, possible tidal flooding and beach erosion.

"There even could be some high surf," said weather service meteorologist Pete Mohlin. Forecasters expect the rain, partly kicked up by the storm, to ease off but linger through Wednesday.

"By Thursday it should be gone," said weather service meteorologist Bern Beaber.

Rip currents are narrow channels of water that pull ocean swimmers out from the beach. They claim more than 100 lives in the United States each year. Strong rip currents and rough seas early last summer contributed to a rash of drownings and swimmer rescues.

Frank Strait, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com, a private forecasting company, said the storm will cause rain, gusty winds and maybe thunderstorms along the Carolina coastline Wednesday night into Thursday, as well as rip currents and rough surf from mid-Florida to Long Island, N.Y.

The storm surprisingly spun up off the Bahamas earlier this week, a week in advance of the official opening of hurricane season and unusually early for a storm this far north in the Atlantic Ocean. With its sudden appearance, gale-force winds and thunderstorms, it quickly threatened to become a tropical system, but by Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center had downgraded that to a low threat of happening.

A storm front coming off the United States is expected to eventually push the storm out to sea. Strait said the system could still become at least a sub-tropical storm if it reaches the Gulf Stream first.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or bpetersen@postandcourier.com.