COLUMBIA, S.C. – The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season developed off the South Carolina coast Sunday as forecasters predicted Tropical Storm Alex (search) would make landfall in North Carolina later this week.
Alex's center was about 110 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C. (search), early Monday. It was nearly stationary, though its winds were blowing up to 40 mph, forecasters said. The tropical storm's center was expected to reach the Carolina coast early Tuesday.
The National Hurricane Center (search) extended the tropical storm warning from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to the South Santee River, north of Charleston. A tropical storm watch was extended from Cape Hatteras to Oregon Inlet, N.C., and remained in effect from the South Santee River to Edisto Beach.
Alex started as a tropical depression Saturday. It churned toward South Carolina on Sunday at about 7 mph before becoming stationary and gathering strength, forecasters said.
Although the storm was close to shore and conditions were expected to worsen, Alex had little impact Sunday: Winds in Charleston and Myrtle Beach rarely gusted above 15 mph and Myrtle Beach had only .08 inches of rain.
"About all it is here is breezy," said Dan St. Jean, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's Charleston office.
The 2004 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, has started slowly. Only two seasons on record have a first depression forming later than July 31, but forecasters caution that has no bearing overall hurricane activity.