Climate and weather experts say this year's hurricane season is likely to be a slow one. "With eight named tropical storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane predicted for the Atlantic Basin this season,'s long-range forecasting team anticipates two or three of these systems to make landfall in the United States," Accuweather reported on May 20 (see: "Will This Season Bring an End to Florida's Decade-Long Hurricane Drought?" by Michael Kuhne.

But weak or not, the season got off to an early start: Tropical Storm Ana spun up in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida on May 8. Wikipedia notes: "The first storm, Ana, developed a month before the official start of the season, becoming the first pre-season tropical or subtropical cyclone since 2012's Beryl, the earliest-forming cyclone since 2003's Ana, and the second-earliest cyclone on record to strike the United States." (See: "2015 Atlantic hurricane season," various authors)

In terms of force, Ana wasn't one for the record books, making landfall north of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina with winds of 45 mph. But rains from the storm were significant, reported the Lumina News (see: "Ana delivers record rainfall before hurricane season, by Emmy Errante). "The National Weather Service reported New Hanover County received more than four inches of rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Ana over a four-day period. Other locations, like Myrtle Beach, received more than six inches," the paper reported. "On Sunday, a New Hanover County maximum daily rainfall record set in 1888 was more than doubled. The record was 1.39 inches, National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Pfaff said, and 2.95 inches were recorded at the Wilmington International Airport."

And the storm was enough to move some sand around, local papers reported. "Area beaches experienced significant beach erosion leaving many areas with steep escarpments or cliffs where waves had carved into the sand," reported the Carolina Beach Island Gazette (see: "Ana brings rain, wind and beach erosion to NC coast," by Willard Killough III).

In Cherry Grove, north of Myrtle Beach, town leaders say the beach losses are important, given how reliant the community is on income from summer tourism. Local station WBTW News 13 reports: "The Cherry Grove area lost 4-5 feet of sand from the dunes, according to Mayor Marilyn Hatley. The last beach re-nourishment took place in 2008. The project covered over 8 miles of beach and distributed 750,000 cubic yards of sand. 'Most of the sand placed in that area of Cherry Grove is gone,' said North Myrtle Beach spokesperson Pat Dowling." (See: "Cherry Grove erosion gets worse, Mayor asks for emergency re-nourishment," by Brennan McDavid)