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Tropical Storm Ana nears US southeast coast


usa mapTropical storm Ana was close to landfall on the US southeastern coast Sunday, threatening flooding, high winds and life-threatening tides in the region, forecasters warned.

Ana, which formed before the official June 1 start of the hurricane season, was expected to make landfall Sunday morning.

The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for South Santee River in South Carolina to Cape Lookout in North Carolina — a 277-mile (446-kilometer) stretch of Atlantic coastline.

The forecasters also said communities in Virginia and eastern North Carolina should monitor the tropical weather system.

By early Sunday, Ana was five miles south of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was moving north-northwest at five miles per hour.

The agency said the storm had weakened slightly as it moved toward the coast, but warned it could still wreak havoc, with up to six inches (15 centimeters) of rain in some areas and winds up to 45 miles per hour expected.

“The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters,” the Miami-based forecasters said.

“The water could reach one to two feet above ground at times of high tide in coastal areas from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina southward through South Carolina.”

The NHC also warned of menacing rip tides off the coast.

“Swells generated by Ana are affecting portions of the southeastern US coast. These swells will likely cause life-threatening surf and rip currents,” it said.

The storm’s conditions will likely continue to weaken once the storm moves inland, according to the NHC.

The harsh conditions are expected to continue through Monday, possibly putting a damper on Mother’s Day plans for those celebrating the popular holiday on Sunday.

Despite Ana’s early arrival, this year’s hurricane season is shaping up to be one of the least active since the mid-20th century, as the El Nino phenomenon is generating weather conditions not conducive to hurricane formation.

The 2014 season was relatively calm, with only six of eight tropical storms reaching hurricane strength.

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