FLORIDA COAST - Tropical Storm Hanna picked up speed Friday as it cruised toward the Carolinas, promising to deliver gusty winds and heavy rain during a dash up the Eastern Seaboard that could wash out the weekend for millions of people.
Not far behind was a much bigger worry: a ferocious-looking Hurricane Ike, on a path similar to the one taken by Andrew, the Category 5 monster that devastated South Florida in 1992. Ike could hit Florida by the middle of next week.
In only a few spots in the Carolinas did emergency officials urge evacuations or open shelters for Hanna. Forecasters said there was only a small chance it could become a hurricane, and most people simply planned to stay off the roads until the storm passed.
"If it was a Category 1 or 2, I might think about leaving," said Eddie Brown of Gastonia, N.C., who planned to spend the weekend at Myrtle Beach. "And I tell you, if it was Ike, I'd already be long gone."
Rain started to fall early Friday on the Carolina coast, with streets in some spots flooding by late afternoon and winds expected to pick up later in the night. Hanna was expected to blow ashore between Myrtle Beach and Charleston overnight, then race up the Atlantic Coast, reaching New England by Sunday morning. Tropical storm watches or warnings ran from Georgia to Massachusetts, and included all of Chesapeake Bay, the Washington, D.C., area and Long Island.