Subtropical Storm Ana, shown in a satellite image, is the first named storm of the 2015 hurricane season. It’s also the earliest named storm since 2003. (NASA)

On Thursday night at 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories on a disturbance we’ve been monitoring over the past week, now Subtropical Storm Ana — the first named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. Although “pre-season” storms occur on average every four to five years, this is the earliest first named storm since Subtropical Storm Ana formed on April 20, 2003 (quite a coincidence!).

On Friday morning, the center of the disorganized storm was 170 miles south-southeast of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and was virtually stationary in its movement. Ana’s maximum sustained winds are 45 mph, and it is forecast to remain at the intensity of a subtropical or tropical storm for the next several days as it lingers off the South Carolina coast.

A tropical storm watch (yellow in the image below) has been issued for the southeast coast from Cape Lookout, N.C., down to Edisto Beach, S.C.

Track forecast and watches as of 5am EDT for Ana. (NOAA)
Track forecast and watches as of 5 a.m. EDT for Ana. (NOAA)

Ana’s biggest impact to the coast will be periods of heavy rain. Coastal locations will also experience some gusty winds over gale-force at times, as well as increased surf and beach erosion. Dry air from the eastern United States has been getting wrapped into the storm’s circulation, which has greatly limited the development and the rainfall coverage.


A nine-hour forecast of the surface wind field, valid at 11 a.m. EDT today from the NAM model. (wunderground.com)

The graphics below highlight the five-day precipitation forecast and the five-day probability of tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph). Areas toward the coast could see more than 2 inches of rain from Ana. At this time, South Carolina coastal areas have the highest chance of seeing at least tropical-storm-force winds.

Ana could transition to a tropical storm in the coming days, but to the practical observer on the ground, the technical classification will not change the storm’s effects. The bulk of the impacts will be limited to coastal South and North Carolina, but as the system weakens over land and heads back out to sea, some breezy winds and remnant moisture could potentially make their way up to the Mid-Atlantic, including the D.C. area on Monday.

5-day acumulated rainfall forecast valid from Friday morning through Wednesday morning. Coastal areas of the Carolinas could receive 2-4". (NOAA)
Five-day accumulated rainfall forecast valid from Friday morning through Wednesday morning. Coastal areas of the Carolinas could receive 2-4 inches. (NOAA)

Probability of locations experiencing tropical-storm-force winds over the next five days. (NOAA)

For specific forecasts, watches and warnings for your location, you can visit the National Weather Service Web site. The hurricane season officially begins on June 1, and the next name on the list is Bill.