By Glynn Wilson –
It seems hurricane season is coming a little early this year, just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.
Five days before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, the second tropical storm warning of 2016 was issued Friday for the coast of South Carolina by the National Weather Service.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami put out a bulletin warning of tropical storm conditions reaching South Carolina’s coastline from the Savannah River north to the Little River Inlet within 36 hours, during the busy Memorial Day holiday weekend.
The current threat to South Carolina comes in the form of a tropical depression off the southeastern United States. It is actually the second threatening weather system of 2016.
Hurricane Alex formed in January in the far eastern Atlantic, but remained too far out at sea to threaten the Eastern Seaboard. A rare wintertime storm, Alex threatened the Azores island group far off the coast of Portugal, but never came near the U.S.
The latest weather system, now designated Tropical Depression Two with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph), was expected to decrease in forward speed on Saturday and Sunday as it nears the coast, which could make the wind speed increase.
Tropical storms are cyclonic weather systems with sustained surface wind speeds ranging from 39 to 73 miles per hour (63 to 119 kilometers per hour).
If the wind speed of Tropical Depression Two reaches 39 mph (63 kilometers per hour), it would be named Tropical Storm Bonnie, and by next Wednesday would rank as the first of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season. The season officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
As of Saturday morning, the depression’s center was located near latitude 29.9 North, longitude 77.0 West. It is expected to produce 1 to 3 inches (3 to 8 cm) of rainfall from the upper coast of Georgia through eastern South Carolina and into southeastern North Carolina.
Tidal storm surge flooding of 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm) above ground level also was expected in the storm warning area, according to the Hurricane Center forecast.
U.S. meteorologists have predicted an increase in the number of named storms this hurricane season compared with below-average numbers during the past three years.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms this year.
Only 11 named storms formed in 2015, including four hurricanes, two of them major.
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© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.