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SC, Lowcountry impact expected to be minimal from possible storm Arthur

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tropical storm arthur

The storm system swirling off the coast of Florida is expected to be the first named storm of the season. Subtropical Storm Arthur is unlikely to impact the Lowcountry. National Weather Service/Provided

Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew early Saturday to investigate what could likely become the first named storm of the season: Arthur.

While the disturbance is not expected to pose a rain threat to South Carolina and the Lowcountry, there is a chance of rip currents and strong tides as the system moves parallel to the coast and north into the Atlantic from Florida.

The National Hurricane Center said Saturday the low-pressure system just off the coast of east-central Florida had become better defined and is now a tropical depression. A tropical storm watch has been issued for a portion of the North Carolina coast.

In Saturday afternoon update, meteorologists said the storm was located about 125 miles east of Melbourne, Florida. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.

Because the surrounding air isn't “particularly moist,” it likely won't significantly intensify, meteorologists said.

Tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rains are possible in North Carolina on Monday, and dangerous coastal surf conditions and rip currents are expected to spread northward from Florida to the mid-Atlantic states during the next few days.

Another Hurricane Hunter plane was scheduled to take readings Saturday night. 

Charleston National Weather Service meteorologist Brittany MacNamara said the most South Carolinians might experience are rip currents, making swimming dangerous for beachgoers. 

The swell bringing those currents is expected to arrive Sunday and last into Monday.

"Tuesday looks to be getting back to normal," MacNamara said. "That’s pretty much the only impact we'll see from this storm."

States to the south weren't so lucky this week as nearly a foot of rain fell in Louisiana from a separate storm system that was heading east and likely to contribute to the growth of the developing Arthur.

Charleston's forecast for the week is dry, MacNamara said, and she predicts no flooding will come from the storm swell.

"We're well below flood stage, so we won't see any from this or in the near future," she said.

While the official start of hurricane season isn't until June 1, MacNamara said it's not unusual to see tropical systems forming a few weeks before. 

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Jessica Holdman is a business reporter for The Post & Courier covering Columbia. Prior to moving to South Carolina, she reported on business in North Dakota for The Bismarck Tribune and has previously written for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash.

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