Tropical storm warning issued for South Carolina

Update 4:45 p.m. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the coast of South Carolina from the Savannah River northeast to the Little River Inlet.

A warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.

National Hurricane Center forecasters said the low pressure system they have been watching has formed into a tropical depression with sustained winds of 35 mph with gusts to 46 mph. A depression becomes a tropical storm when winds measure 39 mph.

The system, which is about 435 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C.,  is moving west northwest at 13 mph.

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Update 4:15 p.m. A tropical storm warning will be issued at 5 p.m. for the South Carolina coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In a special message form the hurricane center, forecasters said advisories will also begin for tropical depression two at 5 p.m.

U.S. Air Force hurricane hunters found maximum flight-level winds of 33 knots or about 38 mph, according to the mission’s vortex data message.

Update 3 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center said the low pressure system that is swirling 450 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C., is still on track to become a tropical cyclone today or Saturday.

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Forcasters said watches or warnings could be issued this afternoon if the system is upgraded to a tropical depression or storm.

The center kept the 90 percent chance of formation that it issued this morning.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter flight is investigating the system now to determine how well defined the circulation has become.

The next scheduled forecast is 8 p.m. unless advisories are issued before then.

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Previous story: The National Hurricane Center has increased the chances of tropical cyclone formation to 90 percent as a low pressure system becomes better organized between Bermuda and the Bahamas.

In a special tropical weather forecast issued this morning, hurricane center meteorologists said the system continues to show signs of development, including a better defined circulation.

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A sub-tropical or tropical storm could develop today or Saturday. Maximum surface wind speeds are 29 mph, according to a NOAA satellite analysis.

A U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter Aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system this afternoon to collect more detailed information about the storm.

Forecasters are cautioning that everyone along the coast between Georgia and the Carolinas should keep an eye on this system.

Will a hurricane be named after you this season? 

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If the system gains tropical-storm force winds of 39 mph, it would be named Bonnie.

While a few days ahead of schedule, early tropical development has some precedents.

Hurricanes have formed in every month but February. Last year, Tropical Storm Ana opened the 2015 hurricane season with a May 9 debut.

This year, Hurricane Alex formed Jan. 14, making it only the second January-born Atlantic hurricane on record.

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Tropical cyclones are unique in that they have warmer temperatures at their centers — so called “warm cores” — that are able to sustain the strength of the storm over long distances.

But they need warm ocean waters and low wind shear to prosper — ingredients AccuWeather forecasters say are there.

Ocean temperatures are at about 80 degrees with light winds that are expected to remain that way into next week.

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