Tropical Depression Bonnie means another bad beach day

Author: Associated Press
Published: Updated:

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Tropical Depression Bonnie reached the South Carolina coast early Sunday before stalling just inland, bringing heavy rain and rough tides to an area packed with tourists for the Memorial Day weekend.

The National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm made landfall just east of Charleston, South Carolina, on the Isle of Palms around 8:30 a.m.

By the afternoon, it had stalled just northwest of Charleston, with heavy rains wrapping around north and west of the storm’s center, forecasters said.

The storm is expected to move along the South Carolina coast on Monday and the North Carolina coast on Tuesday and Wednesday, forecasters said.

It will produce an additional 2 to 3 inches of rainfall with up to 6 inches across east-central Georgia, central and eastern South Carolina, and eastern North Carolina.

Up to 8 inches of rain have fallen in parts of southern South Carolina, according to the National Weather Service. A flash flood warning was issued for Jasper County, where the southbound lanes of busy Interstate 95 were closed for at least 10 hours because of high water.

Several other roads in the area were closed too because of high water.

The heavy rain could continue for a few days. The Hurricane Center said Bonnie’s center will meander up the coast through Tuesday, bringing the heavy rain and heavy surf with it.

Rescue crews in Carolina Beach south of Wilmington, North Carolina, are looking for a 21-year-old man who disappeared Saturday evening while swimming with two friends who made it back to shore safely, according to the Carolina Beach Police Department.

But for the most part, the rain was just an unwelcome visitor over the long holiday weekend.

Caretta Coffee Co. sits just a short walk from the beach on Hilton Head Island. Owner Connie Inggs said business was much slower Saturday as vacationers stayed in. But it picked up Sunday as they looked for something to do, even as the downpours continued.

“It’s a very tropical morning,” Inggs said. “Why not sit back and wait for the weather to get better?”

Usually the beaches at Hilton Head Island are packed with people as Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. But lifeguards were looking out over mostly empty sand as the rain fell, said Shore Beach Service Operations Manager Mike Wagner.

“They are keeping an eye on things,” Wagner said. “As soon as it stops raining for a minute, we’ll have people back out there.”

Wagner’s main worry when the weather clears is heavy surf and rip currents that can suddenly pull swimmers into deeper waters. Some beaches in Georgia, South Carolina and southern North Carolina put up no swimming flags.

No evacuations have been ordered.

The first Atlantic storm of 2016 was Hurricane Alex, which made an unseasonable debut in January over the far eastern Atlantic. The storm was the first hurricane to form in the Atlantic in January since 1938 and made landfall in the Azores on Jan. 15.

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