East Coast under tropical storm warning as system takes aim at North Carolina

A storm moving closer to the U.S. East Coast will deliver tropical storm conditions to North Carolina on Friday, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm was off the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina early Friday with top sustained winds of 50 mph.

As of Friday morning, the storm was located about 330 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, and about 325 miles south Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and moving north around 14 mph, the center said.

CBS affiliate WKTR reported that the storm is expected to affect North Carolina on Friday and linger until Saturday evening or Sunday morning. The rain will be heaviest between Friday night and Saturday morning, with three to six inches of rain expected while the storm is in the area. The area will be under flood watch from 2 p.m. Friday until noon Sunday, with several inches of storm surge expected. There will also be strong winds gusting up to 55 miles per hour in coastal areas.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from Cape Fear, North Carolina, to Fenwick Island, Delaware. It also includes the Chesapeake Bay south of North Beach, Tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

Tropical Weather
A satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a potential tropical cyclone forming off the southeastern coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean. (NOAA via AP)/ AP

North Carolina Emergency Management warned large swells from distant Hurricane Nigel also would reach the state’s coast on Thursday, boosting the rip current risk. The combination of those swells and the low-pressure system could mean additional ocean overwash, beach erosion and coastal flooding.

After passing through North Carolina, the storm will travel into southeast Virginia. Virginia emergency management officials warned of heavy rain, high winds and flooding in the next few days.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management said on social media Thursday that officials are coordinating with local weather service offices to watch the system developing off the coast. Officials called on residents to prepare for the storm and its impacts on the region throughout the weekend.

The hurricane center said storm surge between 2 and 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters) was expected along the storm’s path. Storm surge warnings are in effect from Duck, North Carolina to Chincoteague, Virginia, including Chesapeake Bay south of Windmill Point, and for the Neuse River, the Pamlico River, and portions of Pamlico Sound. Storm surge watches have been issued from Surf City in North Carolina to Duck, North Carolina, along with Chesapeake Bay north of Windmill Point to Smith Point, the Tidal Potomac south of Colonial Beach and Albemarle and the remainder of Pamlico Sound.

Though the system had reached tropical storm strength, it was yet to be given a name and the center was still referring to it as Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 on Friday morning. The hurricane center defines a potential tropical cyclone as a disturbance posing a threat of tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land within 48 hours.

The next name on the 2023 list is Ophelia, according to CBS affiliate WWAY3.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Nigel was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone centered about 640 miles (1,030 kilometers) northwest of the Azores with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph). There were no associated coastal watches or warnings as the storm moved northeast at 37 mph (59 kph), the hurricane center said in its final update on the system Friday morning.

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