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Tropical storm warning puts mid-Atlantic coast under threat of winds and flooding

A disturbance brewing in the Atlantic Ocean is expected to intensify into a tropical storm as it approaches the coast of North Carolina by Friday night, bringing with it a range of severe weather conditions. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a tropical storm warning from Cape Fear, N.C., to Fenwick Island, Del., and surrounding areas, with a storm surge watch extending from northern Wilmington, N.C., to the Potomac River in Virginia.

Key points include:

  • The NHC anticipates that this disturbance will strengthen into a tropical storm as it approaches North Carolina.
  • The warning area encompasses Albemarle and Pamlico sounds in North Carolina, the Tidal Potomac River south of Cobb Island, Md., and Chesapeake Bay south of North Beach, Md.
  • Rainfall estimates of 3 to 5 inches are expected across North Carolina and Virginia through Saturday, with localized areas receiving up to 7 inches. The Mid-Atlantic through southern New England may see 2 to 4 inches of rainfall from late Friday into Sunday.
  • This precipitation could lead to isolated urban and small stream flooding in affected areas.
  • Coastal flooding and life-threatening rip currents are also anticipated, with storm surge heights of 2 to 4 feet if coinciding with high tide in certain areas.
  • The Outer Banks could experience floodwaters rising between 3 and 5 feet, while the lower Chesapeake Bay may see a surge of 2 to 4 feet, with 1 to 3 feet farther up the bay.
  • The cyclone is forecast to approach the North Carolina coast within the warning area on Friday night and Saturday.
  • The NHC has noted the possibility of tornadoes in the mid-Atlantic states on Friday and Saturday.
  • While the system may not reach hurricane status, it is expected to bring dangerous tropical-storm conditions to the southeast and mid-Atlantic coasts.

If the disturbance attains tropical storm strength, it will be designated as Tropical Storm Ophelia, marking the 16th named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and the state’s Department of Public Safety have urged residents in the eastern and central regions to prepare for tropical weather, emphasizing the potential for downed trees, power outages, and flooding. Staying informed through the latest weather forecasts is highly recommended for all residents in the affected areas.

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