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Tropical Storm Ana Threatens Southeastern US Coast

This NASA GOES satellite image shows Tropical Storm Ana as seen early in the day about 170 miles (275 kms) south-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, May 8, 2015.

The southeastern U.S. coast was bracing for heavy rain Saturday with Tropical Storm Ana, the first named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, heading for North and South Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted Ana would be "very near" the coasts of the two states by Sunday morning.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour (59 mph) as of Saturday afternoon after slowing from its earlier speed. Nearly 8 million people are in the path of the storm.

Forecasters warned beachgoers that the storm could bring dangerous rip currents and advised people to stay out of the water.

Tropical storm warnings were in place from South Santee River in South Carolina to Cape Lookout in North Carolina.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30. This is the earliest in a year that a storm powerful enough to be named has emerged in the Atlantic since a previous storm named Ana formed in 2003, according to forecasters.

The current Ana was initially labeled a "subtropical storm." That means it had characteristics of both a tropical storm, which forms over warm waters, and a traditional storm system resulting from the temperature contrast between warm and cold air masses.