ANA: The pre-season storm
Early surprise Ana muscled up to a tropical storm early yesterday as it plodded toward the Carolinas, threatening to push dangerous surf and drenching rains against the Southeast United States (US) coast weeks ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
At press time yesterday, Ana was cantered about 105 miles (169 kilometres) south of Wilmington, North Carolina, according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm had top sustained winds of 60mph (95kph).
Ana had slowed from its earlier speed, moving northwest on a forecast track expected to bring it "very near" the coasts of South and North Carolina sometime this morning, .
Senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said dangerous surf and rip tides appear to be the biggest threat posed by the Atlantic season's first tropical storm though isolated flooding in some coastal areas is also a concern.
Ana marked the earliest subtropical or tropical storm to form in the Atlantic since another storm named Ana emerged in 2003, the Hurricane Center said in an earlier tweet. Although the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't formally start until June 1, Stewart told The Associated Press such early surprise storms are not all that unusual every few years or so.
Stewart said Ana emerged from a subtropical system, meaning it initially had characteristics of both a tropical storm - which draws energy from warm ocean waters - and a traditional storm system driven by temperature changes typical of cooler weather before the season start.