Subtropical Storm Andrea sent some thunderstorms into SC Wednesday - - Columbia, South Carolina

Subtropical Storm Andrea sent some thunderstorms into SC Wednesday

STATEWIDE (WIS) - Subtropical Storm Andrea formed off the southeastern US coast on Wednesday, more than three weeks before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The year's first named storm sent some thunderstorms westward into South Carolina Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon, the rain and lightning hit a number of counties, including Lexington, Fairfield, Orangeburg and Chesterfield. The storms dropped up to 2.5 inches of rain in some areas. But the majority of the rain fell over the ocean.

At 5am Daylight Saving Time, Andrea was centered about 135 miles southeast of Savannah and about 100 miles northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida.

The storm is drifting to the southwest, but forecasters expect little movement over the next 24 hours.

The storm's winds have been blowing the smoke from wildfires across Georgia and Florida.

Forecasters say no significant downpours are expected over land through at least Thursday morning.

The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm would not pose much of a threat, but its early appearance was a little unnerving to some in the beach town of Tybee Island near Savannah.

Most stayed out of the water, though a few surfers waxed their board and tried to catch waves in rough seas that churned the water to white foam as it crashed onshore.

Richard Pasch is a senior hurricane specialist at the center. He called the storm "kind of a half-breed" and said forecasters were not viewing the storm as a major threat.

Authorities in Isle of Palms, about 14 miles east of Charleston, piled sandbags against the foundations of some homes and condominium complexes to help fight erosion on Wednesday.

City administrator Linda Lovven Tucker said Wednesday gas and power lines to several uninhabited structures along the northern end of the island had been disconnected as a precaution as water lapped at their base.

Emergency management officials say they're keeping a close eye on the storm.

Subtropical systems are hybrid weather formations that are usually weaker than hurricanes and tropical storms. They share characteristics of tropical systems, which get their power from warm ocean waters at their centers, and more typical bad weather that forms when warm and cold fronts collide.

Private and university forecasters have predicted that the 2007 season that starts June 1st and ends November 30th will be especially active. They predict the season will produce up to 17
tropical storms and hurricanes and a "well above average" possibility of at least one striking the United States.

The federal government plans to release its predictions May 22nd.

At the coast, the waves are rough. Swimmer Nathaniel Galloway says, "The first one, you're expecting it, and then you fall down and then another one kind of knocks you down, and you're not expecting the second one."

Martika Woodard, of New York, is also braving the rough waves, "I've got some nice scrapes on my legs. I can't stand up."

Lifeguards say the strong waves are unusual, "Usually it's pretty much like a lake out here, not much waves at all, real calm."

The lifeguard WIS' Jennifer Wilson spoke to urged people to swim with caution. He's asking them to stay in water about knee-deep to waist-high while rip currents are a concern.

So far, the lifeguards haven't had to make any rescues, but the Myrtle Beach Patrol's Sgt. Philip Cain is concerned about another problem, "We could experience some serious erosion."

Sgt. Cain says there's some erosion already, "You have to wait until the storm passes to actually, you know, go out and see what, you know, what kind of damage has been done."

For now, despite the danger, some cannot stay away. But, the Beach Patrol says, the storm would have been a bigger problem if it was later in the season with more people at the beach.

Despite the storm, a special committee says all of South Carolina is in the beginning stages of a drought.

The Drought Response Committee put the entire state in an incipient drought Tuesday.

That's the first of four drought stages.

The group is warning water system managers to closely monitor their reservoirs. The Department of Natural Resources also will begin to more carefully monitor conditions across the state.

The dry weather is causing the most problems for farmers and foresters.

Officials say South Carolina will have the potential for significant wildfires until the state gets more rain.

Reported by Jennifer Wilson

Posted by Chantelle Janelle

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