The Heat Is Online

Hurricane Hanna Drenches the Carolinas

Hanna speeding up Atlantic coast, Sept. 6, 2008

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) -- Tropical Storm Hanna was streaking up the Atlantic Coast Saturday morning after coming ashore at 3:20 a.m. near the North Carolina and South Carolina line.

Hanna caused a surge of 1 to 2 feet of water along the shore and was expected to deliver 4 to 6 inches of rain, with some areas getting more.

Flooding, wind damage and power outages were minor across the Carolinas, according to emergency officials.

"It's actually going fairly well, with some reports of minor flooding," said South Carolina Emergency Management spokesman Derrec Becker.

About 10,000 South Carolina homes were without power, mostly in the Myrtle Beach area, Becker said. He also said 444 South Carolina residents were staying in 15 shelters.

In North Carolina, nearly 12,000 homes had no electricity, mostly in the counties near the site where Hanna touched down, said State Emergency Management spokesman Mark Van Sciver.

No deaths were reported, flooding was limited and no highways were closed, Van Sciver said.

Nearly 1,500 residents sought refuge Saturday in 49 emergency shelters in North Carolina, Van Sciver said.

Hanna's eye made landfall near Little River Inlet at the South Carolina-North Carolina line, according to CNN meteorologists.

The National Hurricane Centers 8 a.m. ET advisory said Hanna's top winds had dropped to 50 mph with higher gusts and it was moving toward the north-northwest at a 22 mph clip. The storm's center was about 40 miles east-southeast of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Pounding waves flattened some sand dunes on the beaches at Oak Island, North Carolina -- just east of the storm's landfall.

The island's Ocean Crest pier, rebuilt after Hurricane Floyd destroyed it nine years ago, held up under Hanna, but the American flag flying above it was in tatters and barely attached to its pole by sunrise.

Forecasters said Hanna should weaken before it quickly travels up the mid-Atlantic coast and into New England, dumping heavy rain all the way to Maine.

 "The potential for flash flooding will be significant for the mid-Atlantic region and southern New England," the hurricane center said.

Forecasters also warned that tornadoes could form over the coastal plains of the Carolinas and southeast Virginia on Saturday morning.

A tropical storm warning extends from north of Cape Fear, North Carolina, to the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. Are you prepared for the storm?

Meanwhile, Hurricane Ike will pass near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas in the next day, the hurricane center said.

Ike's impact on the United States is less certain, but it could brush South Florida and hit the Gulf Coast as a major hurricane next week.

Ike's top winds of 115 mph keep it a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the hurricane center's 5 a.m. ET Saturday advisory.

The forecast calls for Ike to be a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches the Florida coast and possibly moves into the Gulf of Mexico next week.

That Saffir-Simpson scale rates hurricanes from 1 to 5, according to strength, with 5 the most intense.

Ike was centered 210 miles east of Grand Turk Island and was moving west-southwest at 16 mph.

Hurricane conditions were expected within 24 hours in the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas. A 36-hour hurricane watch was posted for the central Bahamas.

Tropical storm conditions were likely within 24 hours in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, still recovering from Tropical Storms Fay and Hanna and Hurricane Gustav.

Britain's Foreign Office said additional domestic and international flights have been arranged to evacuate people from the Turks and Caicos, which is a British territory. The office said Providenciales International Airport in the Caicos Islands was expected to close at noon Saturday ahead of the storm.

Ike is expected to start turning toward the northwest Monday, a path that would eventually take it over Cuba and into the southeast Gulf of Mexico.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency Friday because of the chance Ike could strike Florida.

The Florida Keys are in the middle of the predicted path. Officials there have ordered all visitors to begin leaving at 9 a.m. Saturday with residents following on Sunday morning.

In addition, hurricane center forecasters said the storm could strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico.

If so, Ike could become another major hurricane loose in the Gulf and possibly destined for a U.S. Gulf Coast landfall.