COLUMBIA, S.C. – A tropical depression formed southeast of the Carolinas on Friday, prompting storm warnings south to the Georgia-Florida state line.
The depression was 140 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C., with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. It was nearly stationary, but forecasters expected the storm to drift slowly westward Friday night.
It was predicted to come ashore near Charleston late Saturday and move to the northeast across the Carolinas.
The depression could strengthen into a weak tropical storm before making landfall, according to experts at the National Hurricane Center (search) in Miami.
The biggest threat was flooding. Three to 5 inches of rain were forecast along coastal areas from Georgia to North Carolina.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Frances (search) grew into a Category 2 storm Friday in the Atlantic, but it was not expected to threaten land in the near future.
Frances had maximum sustained winds near 105 mph and was expected to strengthen and could become a Category 3 storm, according to the hurricane center.
At 5 p.m. EDT, the hurricane was centered about 800 miles east of the Leeward Islands in the southeastern Caribbean and was moving west-northwest near 10 mph, forecasters said.
A storm becomes a hurricane when wind speed reaches 74 mph. Category 1 hurricanes have maximum sustained wind speeds up to 95 mph; Category 2 storms have wind of 96 to 110 mph.
Frances is the sixth named storm of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.