The National Hurricane Center downgraded Tropical Storm Bonnie to a tropical depression Sunday morning. The storm is still likely to cancel Memorial Day weekend plans for much of the coastal area. Map from the National Hurricane Center
CHARLESTON, S.C., May 29 (UPI) -- Tropical Storm Bonnie was downgraded Sunday morning to a tropical depression and pummeled the South Carolina coast with high winds and heavy rain as a fourth person was found dead in Texas flooding.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded the second named storm of the year, dropping the tropical storm warnings. The storm was still expected to produce maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour throughout the day.
"Little change in strength is forecast during the next 24 hours," the National Hurricane Center reported. "A slow northeastward motion near the coast of northeastern South Carolina is expected by tonight
and on Monday."
Bonnie is expected to drench the Carolinas with up to six inches of rain. The storm began battering the coast of the South Carolina coast Saturday, NBC News reported.
Whipping winds and dangerous waves as high as 13 feet could also hit both North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as Georgia and Florida over the coming days, forecasters said.
The tropical depression was approximately 25 miles east-southeast of Charleston at 8 a.m. Sunday
Charleston police warned drivers steer clear of downed trees and power lines, and to avoid driving through flooded areas. Just more than 1 1/2 inches of rain was recorded at Charleston Air Force Base by Saturday evening.
The National Weather Service declared Bonnie a tropical storm Saturday evening after forecasters detected winds at 40 mph, making it the season's second-named tropical storm four days ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. A depression becomes a tropical storm when winds reach 39 mph.
At the same time, Texas is bracing for more rain through the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend, after four people have already been found dead, all related to flooding.
Lela Holland, 64, died in her home in the flooding, the Washington County Sheriff's office reported. Jimmy Wayne Schaeffer, 49, was killed when he drove his truck into high water.
National Guardsman Darren Mitchell, 21, was found dead Saturday after his vehicle was swept off the road by floods, the sheriff's statement said. Pyarali Rajebhi Umatiya, 59, was killed when his vehicle stalled in high water.
Police were set to resume the search Sunday for a 10-year-old boy who fell into the Brazos River while fishing Saturday..
Washington County, a rural enclave between Austin and Houston, saw nearly two feet of rain in a span of just a few hours Friday. Several bridges were damaged, 58 roads were still closed Saturday and 2,000 residents remained without power.
Multiple people were rescued in Travis County, Texas and county officials were searching for two residents swept away by raging waters.
In Kansas, weather took its toll when an 11-year-old boy fell into the fast-moving Gypsum Creek in Wichita and was swept away as friends tried to grab him, NBC affiliate KSNW reported. The creek was swollen by recent rains. By Saturday, fire officials said the search had turned in to a recovery operation.
In Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency ahead of expected heavy rains Saturday, and warned that water could breach levees.