Ana became the first named tropical system of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Thursday night.Ana was first classified as a subtropical, or hybrid storm, having some warm, tropical features and some cool, non-tropical features. Early Saturday morning, Ana became fully tropical and a stronger tropical storm.
Even though Ana will weaken over slightly cooler water near the Carolina coast, it will still be a tropical storm when it makes landfall during early Sunday morning, preceded by bands of drenching rain and gusty winds and rough surf.
Ana is expected to come onshore near the border of North Carolina and South Carolina.
The risk to lives and property will be low for land areas, due to Ana being forecast to remain a tropical storm. However, there are some risks for people remaining on land and significant danger for those venturing in the surf or heading to sea in small craft.
Rainfall averaging 2-4 inches in southeastern North Carolina and neighboring parts of the South Carolina coast will raise the risk of flooding on roadways and low-lying areas. Even if flooding does not occur, the downpours will dramatically reduce visibility for motorists.
While winds are not likely to become strong enough to cause widespread damage, there could be downed tree limbs and sporadic power outages, especially where locally gusty thunderstorms occur. A couple of brief tornadoes and waterspouts could be spawned by the storm. If and where these occur, damage could be more severe.
Winds will increase along the Carolina coastline as Ana approaches and then makes landfall. Winds will reach an average speed of 30-40 mph with gusts frequenting 50 mph and occasionally reaching 60 mph along the Carolina coast for a time this weekend. Gusts can be significantly higher in thunderstorms.
Seas were averaging 10-14 feet offshore of the Carolinas on Saturday evening. "That will translate to the coast in the form of very rough and dangerous surf into the weekend before subsiding early next week," stated AccuWeather.com Hurricane Expert Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.
The constant bombardment of rough surf will lead to beach erosion focusing on North Carolina. The rough surf will cause frequent and strong rip currents, which will pose dangers to bathers.
Persistent onshore winds will also bring the potential for coastal flooding in portions of North Carolina, particularly at times of high tide.
Rough seas and squalls associated with the storm will make for dangerous conditions for small craft outside of protected coastal waters.
Ana will also produce higher-than-normal seas from Delaware to near the northern part of the Bahamas and eastern Florida this weekend.
"While people should stay out of the water along the Carolina and Georgia coasts in this situation, this will be a storm for people to think of what they need to do for hurricane preparation for the upcoming season," Kottlowski said.
Ana will help to strengthen an area of high pressure that will pump building warmth and sunshine in much of the East.
Direct impact from Ana as a tropical storm is not likely to occur in the Northeast or penetrate hundreds of miles inland in the South this weekend.
Ana, in diminished form, will be pulled northeastward ahead of an approaching cool front across part of the mid-Atlantic and southeastern New England Monday into Tuesday. Ana's moisture will become embedded with moisture from the front in the form of showers and thunderstorms.
The atmospheric roadblock will keep rounds of severe weather over the Plains this weekend.
AccuWeather.com Chief Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok is monitoring the Atlantic Basin for additional development later in May.
"It is possible a tropical system slowly takes shape in the Gulf of Mexico during the third week of May along the tail end of a front with high pressure to the north," Pastelok said.
AccuWeather has released its summer forecast for the U.S. and will release its Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast for 2015 on May 13.