With the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season days away, a tropical storm made landfall Wednesday on the coast of South Carolina and is expected to bring the threat of life-threatening floods as it tracks into North Carolina and Virginia, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Tropical Storm Bertha made landfall near Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, at 9:30 a.m. local time Wednesday, only an hour after forming off the coast. Bertha made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 80 kilometers per hour, said the NHC.
North Carolina and western Virginia are the next states in Bertha's path as it tracks inland, bringing with it drenching rainfall and high winds. As it moves farther inland, it will weaken to a tropical depression and become a remnant low Wednesday night, predicted the NHC.
The National Weather Service has issued flash flood watches for parts of central and eastern South Carolina, central North Carolina, and western Virginia, including the cities of Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, where the ground is already saturated by recent rainfall.
Heavy rains on soaked ground could produce dangerous flash flooding, aggravate and prolong ongoing river flooding, and produce sudden flooding of small rivers, according to the NHC.
Bertha could also cause deadly rip currents along the Atlantic coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas, said the NHC.
Tropical Storm Bertha is the second named tropical pre-season storm of 2020. Tropical Storm Arthur formed May 16 off the coast of Florida, continuing a six-year trend of named storms forming prior to the official June 1 start date of the Atlantic hurricane season.
This year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an abnormally severe season, with between 13 and 19 named storms, 6 to 10 hurricanes, and 3 to 6 major hurricanes.