Tropical depression forms off Ga., S.C. coasts

A storm off the Southeast coast sent bands of blustery weather into Georgia and South Carolina on Friday, and forecasters said it was forming a tropical depression.

Flash flood watches and small-craft advisories were posted for coastal areas as the system, with its center about 60 miles east of Savannah, Ga., was expected to track slowly north and northeast. Sustained winds were about 25 mph at midday Friday.

Meteorologist Jonathan Lamb of the National Weather Service in Charleston said most of the rain remained offshore and, even if the storm deepened, it would not cause too many problems.

“Even if it did develop and stayed off the coast, the impacts on the Charleston and Savannah areas would be relatively low,” he said. “It wouldn't be anything near a hurricane or anything like that.”

He said the storm could bring occasional showers and heavy thundershowers.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 8 p.m. that the system was becoming better defined and that those along the Georgia and Carolinas coasts should keep watch for the system through the weekend.

A tropical depression has winds of 38 mph or less. It becomes a tropical storm with winds sustained at 39 mph. If the system develops into a tropical storm, it would be named Cristobal, the third named in the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.