A low-pressure system is expected to develop off the coast of Florida Thursday and gradually move north, reaching tropical storm strength as it approaches North Carolina on Friday.
Thursday forecasts from the National Hurricane Center show the storm coming ashore in Carteret County Saturday morning and moving north over the state into Virginia. The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning for the N.C. coast.
Here’s what to expect.
Is this another tropical storm?
While there is a tropical storm, Nigel, in the Atlantic, that storm is expected to stay well off the U.S. coast and turn away to the northeast.
But a separate low-pressure system off the coast of Florida is expected to combine with wind and wave action from Nigel to create tropical storm conditions from Cape Fear, south of Wilmington, all the way to New England.
Heavy rain, rough surf and increased risk of rip currents are expected in the region as the storm approaches beginning Friday.
TROPICS UPDATE: A coastal storm is likely spreading rain and strong winds from the Carolinas to New England into the weekend. It has a brief window on Saturday to become a hybrid nor'easter/tropical system called Subtropical Storm Ophelia. Maybe. More at https://t.co/X6Rmymh8c0 pic.twitter.com/cLHqpIHe0o
— Bryan Norcross (@bryannorcrosstv) September 20, 2023
What kind of weather will North Carolina see?
Along the coast:
▪ Locally heavy rainfall – up to 6 inches – is expected across much of Eastern North Carolina, mostly likely from Friday into Saturday.
▪ Flooding is possible in low-lying areas, especially closer to the coast.
▪ Winds will increase on Friday and peak Friday night, forecasters say, with sustained winds of up to 46 mph in some areas and gusts of up to 55 mph possible. Saturday, winds will gradually decrease from more than 30 mph in the morning to about 11 mph after midnight, forecasters say.
▪ Potentially dangerous surf conditions are expected from late Thursday until at least late Saturday, with waves as high as 13 feet expected on the northern Outer Banks on Friday.
▪ All ferry service to Ocracoke from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter has been canceled for Friday. Additional cancellations are likely, the state says.
▪ Rip current risk will be high beginning Thursday night, forecasters say, and will remain high through at least Saturday night. Lifeguard staffing is at off-season levels and beach communities will post red flags warning visitors not to swim.
What about the Triangle forecast?
The National Weather Service says rain is possible Friday and likely on Saturday, along with sustained winds on Saturday of up to 23 mph and gusts up to 36 mph.
Sunday should be mostly sunny and nice.
September 20 is two-thirds into the statistically most active month of Hurricane Season and, true to form, there are a medley of tropical and subtropical items. Rough waters and nor'easter style conditions trending probable late this week... pic.twitter.com/7ddDJPPspp
— Gannon Medwick (@medwick) September 20, 2023
Another tropical system to watch
Forecasters also are watching a tropical wave a couple of hundred miles off the Cabo Verde Islands in the Eastern Atlantic.
That’s expected to merge with another disturbance to become a tropical depression over the weekend or early next week. Meteorologists say it will move generally west, bringing it into the central Atlantic.
The next tropical storm to form in the Atlantic would be named Ophelia.