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Tropical Storm Ana weakens as it strikes South Carolina

Tropical Storm Ana, the first named tropical storm of the 2015 season, lost strength as it made landfall near Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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Tropical Storm Ana is seen moving north-northwestward up the East Coast of the United States in this NOAA GOES satellite image taken at 08:15 am ET.

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Tropical Storm Ana, the first named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, weakened on Sunday after making landfall near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina but high surf and flooding still threatened the coast.

Ana was delivering maximum sustained wind of 40 miles per hour, with higher gusts, as it moved slowly on a northward track near the border of North and South Carolina, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

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The center of the storm, which was moving at about 3 mph (5 km/h), was some 13 nautical miles northwest of North Myrtle Beach at 8 a.m. (1300 GMT), two hours after making landfall.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect from Little River Inlet, South Carolina, to Surf City, North Carolina, a 75-mile stretch centering on Wilmington, North Carolina, a city with about 112,000 residents.

Ana should remain over land at least through the overnight period, sapping more strength from the system and knocking it down to the category of tropical depression later on Sunday, the weather agency said.

Under the current forecast, the center of the storm will move over eastern North Carolina later Sunday and back over the Atlantic Ocean on Monday on a course headed toward Atlantic Canada.

The storm could bring one to three inches of rainfall to the Carolina coast, though higher amounts are possible, the National Weather Service's Wilmington office forecast.

Ana's formation is the earliest appearance of a named storm in the Atlantic since a previous incarnation of Subtropical Storm Ana on April 20, 2003, said Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for Weather Underground, a commercial weather service.

The Atlantic hurricane season typically runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

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(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Writing by Colleen Jenkins and Frank McGurty; Editing by Tom Heneghan)