Bertha forms, hits South Carolina coast, dissipates in a day

May 27, 2020
A man rides a bicycle while holding an umbrella as rain from Tropical Storm Bertha flooded a few streets in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Matthew Fortner/The Post And Courier via AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tropical Storm Bertha surprised the South Carolina coast Wednesday, forming and making landfall within two hours, bringing a poor beach day of rain and gusty winds, but no major problems.

Forecasters expected the bad weather, but didn’t predict it to organize so quickly and become the second named storm before the official start of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

Bertha was named around 8 a.m. Wednesday and was onshore east of Charleston by 9:30 a.m. The state Department of Natural Resources called it “a sunrise surprise.” Six hours after the tropical storm formed, the National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a depression well inland.

Like almost all storms with heavy rain, several streets flooded in Charleston, leaving ankle to calf high brown water mixed with trash from knocked over cans Wednesday. Sea rise and an antiquated drainage system mean the city floods an average of more than once a week. Heavy rains from an unnamed storm last week caused more problems.

Less than 1,000 power outages and scattered downed trees were reported as Bertha and its 50 mph (80 kph) maximum sustained winds moved onshore and into eastern South Carolina.

Bertha moved rapidly inland, spreading up to 4 inches (10 centimetres) of rain into parts of North Carolina and Virginia. Flash flood watches were issued as the region has already seen plenty of rain in May.

The storm was centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north-northwest of Charleston, South Carolina, and was moving north-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).

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Evan Woodbury took videos of the storm before starting what he expected to be a slow day at the oceanfront restaurant he works at in Garden City south of Myrtle Beach.

A strong wind was blowing rain sideways. Closed umbrellas whipped in the roar of the wind on an empty beach.

“I’ve seen a lot worse than this. It’s jWe want to hear from you! Email us at star@gleanerjm.com and follow @thejamaicastar on Instagram and on twitter @JamaicaStar, and on Facebook: @TheJamaicaStar. ust the surprise element of the storm.” Woodbury said. “It will definitely keep the tourists in.”

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