Early surprise Ana muscled up to a tropical storm early today as it plodded toward the Carolinas, threatening to push dangerous surf and drenching rains up against the Southeast coast weeks ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Ana was centered about 115 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, this morning with top sustained winds of 60mph. The storm was on a path expected to bring it "very near" the coasts of South and North Carolina sometime tomorrow morning.
Dangerous surf and rip tides appear to be the biggest threat, though isolated flooding in some coastal areas is also a concern. The season doesn't formally start until June 1. While an early storm isn't terribly rare, Ana is the earliest subtropical or tropical storm to form in the Atlantic since another storm named Ana emerged in 2003, according to the National Hurricane Center. (Read more tropical storms stories.)