System off the Bahamas could become a tropical storm

School’s out, the kids are at home and the first holiday of the summer season could be wet – possibly very wet and in much of the Palmetto State, forecasters said Thursday.

National weather services have been watching an unorganized area of low pressure near the Bahamas they said has a 60 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm by mid-Saturday.

The slow-developing system, which the National Weather Service said had little support aloft at the middle or upper levels to “churn” deep into ocean waters or to become very active with winds, still had a 70 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm by mid-Tuesday.

“The main concern we have at this point is there is some potential for heavy rains throughout the weekend and through Memorial Day,” said Mike Proud, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, located at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

The absence of steering winds to move the storm system directionally, means showers and thunderstorms could reach the South Carolina coast starting early Saturday morning, spreading to the Midlands late Saturday evening, or more likely, Saturday night, Proud said.

“Because there is a lack of steering flow, it is just going to linger over the region, departing Monday night or Tuesday at this point,” he said. “So, there is potential for a lot of showers through the weekend. Most of the activity at this point looks like it would be between Columbia and the coast. But there is some potential for heavy rain at this point.”

So, get your tanning and grilling in early this weekend, if sunshine fits your bill.

Those heading to coastal South Carolina or North Carolina are the most likely to experience interruptions to their holiday plans, weather forecasters predict.

Rain chances are highest on Saturday at 50 percent probability, then fall off to 40 percent under partly cloudy skies for most of the remainder of the week.

Except for the weather uncertainty over half the state, this Memorial Day holiday weekend has a lot going for it.

Nearly half-a-million motorists will be packing up the car and taking to the roads in South Carolina, according to AAA Carolinas projections. More than 1 million N.C. motorists also plan to hit the roads this weekend, together constituting the highest Memorial Day travel volume on record, the agency said.

The official Memorial Day holiday travel period started Thursday and runs through May 30.

Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Savannah are among AAA Carolinas top driving destinations in the nation this Memorial Day weekend. Portions of Florida, coastal Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina could all be affected by weather from the developing system in the Atlantic, weather service maps showed Thursday.

“Carolinians are eagerly awaiting the start of the summer and are ready to travel thanks to the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in a decade,” said Dave Parsons, AAA Carolinas president and CEO, in a statement issued about Memorial Day travel in the Carolinas.

Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398