CHARLESTON, S.C. Tropical Storm Bonnie was downgraded to a tropical depression as it came ashore just northeast of Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday morning, bringing heavy rains, minor flooding and sustained winds of about 30 miles per hour.
The system, the first tropical storm to reach the United States this year, dumped 3 to 4 inches of rain in many parts of South Carolina and triggered flooding in low-lying areas and streets at high tides, weather forecasters said.
In the Beaufort area, south of Charleston, 8 to 10 inches of rain fell, said Carl Barnes, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Charleston.
"We're not out of the woods because the heavy rain could move back over us today if it really sits on us," he said.
Heavy rains are still falling in eastern Georgia and portions of the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. advisory. Maximum sustained winds have flagged to about 35 mph, punctuated by higher gusts.
The storm is now moving north along the coast, where it is expected to soak the coastal Carolinas and move offshore or dissipate after moving over the North Carolina Outer Banks, Barnes said.
Before a slow weakening on Monday, the system is expected to deposit 2 to 4 inches of rain in central and eastern South Carolina to the Georgia border, and 1 to 3 inches farther north across southeastern North Carolina, the center said.
Forecasters warned that the storm would likely produce dangerous surf and rip currents along the U.S. Southeast coast, a particular concern during the long Memorial Day weekend, when swimmers and surfers typically flock to beaches.
Police and U.S. Coast Guard teams were searching on Sunday for a missing swimmer in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, 15 miles south of Wilmington, after a report of a man in distress in the ocean about 8 p.m. on Saturday, according to authorities.
In spite of the risk, dozens of surfers gravitated to Folly Beach near Charleston over the weekend to ride the storm swell and lumpy waves. But rain has dampened Memorial Day weekend for thousands of beachgoers.
Alli Pulley, desk clerk at The Tides hotel on Folly Beach, said guests were staying put despite the weather and the 132-room hotel was full.
"No, they're not leaving," she said. "I think they just have this time off for vacation. It's this or go back home and sit down."
Thousands of visitors are in Charleston for the opening weekend of Spoleto Festival USA, an annual, three-week international performing arts event. Rain is expected to continue through Monday, but most performances are indoors.
(Additional reporting by Frank McGurty in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Andrew Bolton)
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Published Date: May 29, 2016 10:30 pm | Updated Date: May 29, 2016 10:30 pm