October 14, 2014

Gonzalo expected to become major
hurricane but stay far offshore


The seventh named tropical storm of the season, Gonzalo, became a hurricane overnight and is forecast to become a major hurricane -- perhaps a Category 4 -- as it heads northwest and then north in the open Atlantic.

This afternoon at 5 p.m., the hurricane winds were 115 mph and the storm was moving  northwest at 13 mph. Strengthening is still expected as Gonzalo turns more to the north and eventually northeast.

On this course, it will stay far offshore of the East Coast and could threaten Bermuda later in the week.

Seas along the northern Outer Banks are forecast to build gradually as the southeast swell from Gonzalo increases through the week.  Seas are expected to peak at 6 to 9 feet late Friday and then subside to 4 to 7 feet by Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in Newport, N.C.

A small craft advisory is in effect for the coastal waters until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The onshore southeast winds of today will shift to the west early Thursday with the passage of a cold front.  Winds will remain more west and southwest into the weekend with the passage of another dry front on Saturday.

With winds offshore, NWS forecaster Hal Austin said northern Hatteras Island shouldn't have problems with overwash -- even with the swells from the distant hurricane.

The slow moving cold front will cross the area on Wednesday into Wednesday night. Scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms ahead of the front will produce locally heavy rain, with amounts of more than 1 inch possible. Some of storms could possibly be severe with strong wind gusts and an isolated tornado.

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