Forecasters warned would-be beachgoers to stay out of South Carolina’s coastal waters Saturday as a tropical depression neared the state, threatening to strengthen and cause potentially deadly rip currents over the Memorial Day weekend.
The tropical depression is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm Saturday before hitting land – most likely coastal South Carolina – sometime Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.
The system was spinning about 195 miles south-southeast of Charleston at about 11 a.m. ET Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph – 4 mph short of tropical storm status.
A tropical storm warning was issued for all of coastal South Carolina, with tropical-storm force winds expected to reach the coast late Saturday or early Sunday.
Two to 4 inches of rain could drop in parts of the state. But storm surges – up to 2 feet above ground level – and life-theatening surf and rip currents also are possible, the hurricane center said.
“Wow! Beaches are crowded. Please stay out of the water!” the weather service’s Charleston office tweeted Saturday morning.
The system, which would be named Bonnie if it becomes a tropical storm, is expected to linger along the coastlines of South Carolina and North Carolina for a couple days, because a high-pressure system is expected to block it from coming far inland, CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said Saturday.