Tropical Storm Bonnie weakens to tropical depression

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Tropical Storm Bonnie weakened to a tropical depression Sunday morning as it continued to spin north toward the coast, soaking eastern Georgia and portions of the Carolinas while ruining the start of Memorial Day.

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Top sustained winds of the season’s second-named tropical storm decreased to 35 mph (55 kph) Sunday morning, four days before the official start of hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The center of Bonnie was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, and 80 miles (130 kilometers) south-southwest of Myrtle Beach as of 8 a.m. EDT, the Miami-based center said in an advisory. Bonnie was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph). All tropical storm warnings were discontinued and no coastal watches or warnings remained in effect Sunday.

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Bonnie was expected to move onshore near the south-central coast of South Carolina Sunday morning, according to the Hurricane Center, followed by a slow, northeastward motion near the coast of northeastern South Carolina by Sunday night and Monday.

Bonnie is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches from central and eastern South Carolina to the Georgia border, and 1 to 3 inches farther north across southeastern North Carolina. Heavy rain is expected to develop well north, to parts of the Mid-Atlantic region and the Northeast with total accumulations of 1 to 2 inches through Monday and isolated maximum amounts of 4 inches.

Heavy rain and dangerous surf kept people off the Georgia, South Carolina and southern North Carolina beaches on Saturday. No evacuations had been ordered, with forecasters saying the biggest danger will likely be from locally heavy rain.

Officials in Charleston were monitoring the winds. The area has 15 bridges over water that are at least 65-feet tall that are closed when winds get 40 mph or above.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the South Carolina coast and forecasters said an isolated tornado or two will be possible early Sunday over the immediate coastal region from central South Carolina to southern North Carolina. The storm is expected to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain across much of the area this weekend, with 6 inches possible in some spots.

Near Myrtle Beach, authorities said they were worried mostly about heavy rain causing dangerous driving conditions as thousands of bikers and their motorcycles make their annual trip to the area.

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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