Julia maintains tropical storm strength off southeast coast


CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Julia maintained tropical storm strength Thursday night after earlier weakening to a tropical depression, but forecasters said it would gradually lose steam again while meandering off the coast of the Carolinas.

The storm, which did not deliver the torrential downpours and widespread flooding that was feared earlier in the week, was expected to drift off the coast for the next couple of days, the National Hurricane Center said. No coastal watches or warnings were in effect.

Julia’s maximum sustained winds at 11 p.m. EDT Thursday were 40 mph (about 65 kph). The storm was centered about 190 miles (about 310 kilometers) southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, and 270 miles (about 435 kilometers) southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It was moving at a speed of 4 mph (7 kph), the center said.

Flood watches were dropped for the South Carolina coast earlier Thursday, although forecasters issued a small-craft advisory for waters near the shore and said there was a danger of rip currents along the coast through Thursday evening.

Street flooding that occurred around high tide late Wednesday closed a handful of downtown Charleston streets, but all had reopened by rush hour Thursday morning, and the pavement on major arteries leading into town was dry.

Many areas along the South Carolina coast saw more than 2 inches of rain during the storm on Wednesday, but nowhere near the 6 to 8 inches that had earlier been forecast.

Forecasters had issued flood watches, concerned about additional rains coming less than two weeks after Tropical Storm Hermine sloshed across the state. That storm brought from 3 to 6 inches of rain but mainly in areas of the Midlands farther inland.

Meanwhile, there was little change in a new tropical depression that had formed far out over the Atlantic. Tropical depression Twelve’s maximum sustained winds were holding steady at 35 mph (about 55 kph) Thursday night. The storm was centered about 505 miles (810 kilometers) northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands and was moving west at 13 mph (20 kph).

A Hurricane Center advisory said the storm is expected to strengthen by late in the weekend.

Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Ian was moving northeast in the central Atlantic but posed no threat to land.

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