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Bertha hits South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tropical Storm Bertha surprised the South Carolina coast Wednesday, forming, making landfall within two hours and being downgraded before sundown, 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. They said Bertha was no longer a tropical depression at 5 p.m. and stopped issuing advisories.

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.

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

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