Tropical Storm Ana intensifies as it churns toward the Carolinas

Story highlights

  • Ana is the first named storm of the 2015 Atlantic tropical storm season
  • Tropical storm alerts are in effect for some areas of the Carolinas

(CNN)The first Atlantic tropical storm of the year appears poised to hit the shores of North Carolina or South Carolina by early Sunday.

The center of Tropical Storm Ana spun in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday afternoon, about 85 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as of 2 p.m. ET.
Ana, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph Saturday afternoon, is expected to hit land near the states' border by Sunday morning, the National Weather Service said.
    It may weaken as it crosses cooler water near the coast, but it should pack noticeable winds and rain and storm surges.
    Ana generally could drop 1 to 3 inches of rain, with isolated amounts of up to 5 inches, over the eastern Carolinas through Monday, according to the weather service.
    Tropical-storm-strength winds -- at least 39 mph -- are possible from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Cape Lookout in North Carolina, a stretch of coast where a tropical storm warning was in effect Saturday morning.
    Beachgoers and sailors should take Ana seriously -- high rip currents could sweep swimmers on the shores out to sea.
    During high tide, storm surges could send 1 to 2 feet of water onto coastal areas. That, with rain, could cause flooding in low-lying spots, the weather service said.
    The winds could break tree limbs, cause scattered power outages and cause minor damages to porches, awnings, carports and sheds, said the National Weather Service's office in Wilmington, North Carolina.
    "Interests elsewhere in eastern North Carolina and Virginia should monitor the progress of Ana," the National Weather Service said.