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Blustery winds and rain affecting Carolinas

By Bruce Smith

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 10 2011 8:00 p.m. MDT

A kite boarder rides the swells along the beach at Folly Beach, S.C., as a coastal storm passes on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011.

Bruce Smith, Associated Press

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. — Blustery winds and bands of rain swept over the coastal Carolinas on Monday from a disturbance spinning to the south that brought heavy weekend rains to Florida.

The winds, gusting to more than 30 mph along South Carolina's central coast, whipped waves into a frothy foam and sent water to the base of steps leading to the sand from beach houses in Folly Beach. A scattering of beachgoers had to bend their heads against the steady wind as they tried to walk the beach.

Forecasters warned as much as 5 inches of rain could fall in some coastal areas and street flooding was expected in the Charleston area near the time of high tide shortly before 8 p.m. Monday.

But the rain was expected to be more of a help than a hindrance.

"The fact that we are in a drought, it's good news for most areas," said Jonathan Lamb, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Columbia. "We may have some problems at high tide."

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows an extreme drought along the western edge of South Carolina with various stages of drought in other parts of the state.

The center of the storm system was producing gale force winds offshore of the Carolinas but was weakening by Monday afternoon when it was centered about 25 miles southwest of Valdosta, Ga., and becoming less defined. The National Hurricane Center said there was no chance the storm would become a subtropical cyclone.

Rip current warnings were posted along the coast of the Carolinas.

But forecasters said as the storm weakened, it would just bring rain and breezy conditions along the North Carolina coast into the Outer Banks on Tuesday.

Forecaster Hal Austin at the National Weather Service Office in Morehead City, N.C., said there could be 2 to 3 inches of rain before it clears out late Tuesday. He said beach erosion on the Outer Banks should not be a problem.

"It's going to be a breezy day but if there were anything, it would be marginal," he said, adding winds would probably reach no more than 20 to 25 mph.

The storm approached as the road linking the mainland to Hatteras Island was ready to reopen after being washed out in several places by Hurricane Irene in August. North Carolina Department of Transportation officials said N.C. 12 was to reopen to traffic by Monday evening.

On Folly Beach, winds pushed sand along the beach and dunes near the Folly Beach pier were eroded as Monday's winds whipped up the waves.

The Folly Beach County Park at the south end of the island suffered extensive damage during Irene and most areas of the park are closed until further notice.

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