MIAMI (AP) – The first tropical depression of the Atlantic hurricane season formed Saturday, and a tropical storm warning was issued for coastal areas of the Carolinas, forecasters said.

The depression, which forecasters said could become a tropical storm by Sunday, was centered 115 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C.

It was moving toward the north-northwest near 8 miles per hour, and a gradual turn toward the north was expected sometime Sunday.

Maximum sustained winds were near 30 miles per hour. A depression becomes a tropical storm when its winds reach 39 miles per hour.

A tropical storm watch was in effect from Edisto Beach, S.C., to Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Forecasters have been tracking the system for the past few days, said Lixion Avila, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm brought rainfall around North Carolina on Saturday, and was expected to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain to eastern parts of the state early Sunday, according to the weather service.

At about 11 p.m. EDT, the depression was located near latitude 31.4 north, longitude 78.9.

Forecasters also were watching a disorganized area of low pressure located in the central Gulf of Mexico and a tropical wave centered about 600 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.

The tropical wave was moving westward at 20 mph.

The Atlantic hurricane season started June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

On the Net:

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

AP-ES-07-31-04 2256EDT



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