08/02/04 — Storm strengthens off S. Carolina coast

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Storm strengthens off S. Carolina coast

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on August 2, 2004 2:00 PM

Tropical Storm Alex, the first tropical storm of the season, gathered strength today as it drifted slowly eastward off the South Carolina coast.

Alex's maximum sustained winds had increased to 60 mph with some higher gusts.

The storm was drifting offshore about 120 miles south-southeast of Charleston or 210 miles south-southeast of Wrightsville Beach.

The National Hurricane Center says the strengthening storm could become a hurricane in the next 24 hours.

The winds extend 105 miles beyond the center, and a variation in the course or further strengthening could bring heavy rain and gusty winds Tuesday to Wayne County.

The Hurricane Center posted tropical storm warnings from the South Santee River, just north of Charleston, to Cape Hatteras. A tropical storm watch was in effect from Edisto Beach to the South Santee River and in North Carolina from Hatteras to Oregon Inlet.

As of this morning, the National Weather Service in Raleigh said Goldsboro can expect periods of heavy rain today through tonight. Rain is also likely early Tuesday and into Tuesday night, with some bands of showers producing as much as an inch in a short period of time. Flash flood warnings may be issued depending on the amount of rain that falls.

Although the projected path kept the storm at sea, it was expected to take it near the coast of the Carolinas, prompting the tropical storm warnings. The warnings mean that sustained winds of 39 mph or more are expected.

Forecasters are adjusting predictions about the strength and path of Tropical Storm Alex with every passing hour.

The storm was projected to be just off Cape Lookout at sunrise Tuesday.

Alex started as a tropical depression Saturday and, amid light steering currents, remained stationary off the South Carolina coast most of Sunday.

Forecasters said no significant coastal flooding was expected, but they warned there could be high water in some areas along the North Carolina sounds.

Rain of 1 to 2 inches was expected in some areas, as storm bands swept over the coast.

Because the forecast is subject to change, residents should monitor the latest weather reports.

Another area of disturbing weather is brewing in the mid-Atlantic, indicating the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season is well under way.