Potential tropical storm headed for NC coast. When will South Carolina be affected?

South Carolina will largely be spared from impacts of the low-pressure system, which will likely strengthen to Tropical Storm Ophelia, that’s tracking to North Carolina’s central coast early Saturday.

Beginning Friday afternoon and throughout the evening, gusty winds, strong rip currents and high surf will affect the Lowcountry, said Brian Adam, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Charleston Office. Beaufort County will see wind gusts up to 33 mph. The area is currently under a rip current advisory, which will remain in effect until 8 p.m.

Friday morning, the system was about 255 miles from Charleston and moving north at 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was packing wind gusts up to 55 mph and had an 80% chance of formation within the next 48 hours.

On Saturday, the rip current risk will diminish from Friday’s high to a moderate risk when then the storm’s winds turn more northwesterly, Adam said. Luckily, the South Carolina coast is “missing the bulk” of rain that will pelt North Carolina.

Beyond the churning system headed for North Carolina, a second system, in the eastern tropical Atlantic, is stirring.

A tropical wave located 600 miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands has environmental conditions that look as though it could form into a tropical depression as it moves westward across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic between 10 and 15 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Adam said while that system is expected to curve more northward within the “next few to several” days, local forecasters will need to “keep an eye on that” to “see how it plays out.”

The chance of formation within the next week is 90%.

Caught in a rip current?

  • Swim along the shoreline, not directly into shore

  • Once out of the current’s pull, swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore

  • If needed, tread water or call for help