A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the North Carolina coast from Surf City to Duck, due to a tropical depression located east of Florida, per a Saturday afternoon update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC.)
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions, (with heavy rains and sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph), are expected within the next 36 hours. Per the Saturday afternoon forecast, the center of the tropical system is expected to pass near or just east of the North Carolina coast on Monday.
Satellite images, Doppler radar data, and surface observations indicate that a low-pressure system located just east of the coast of central Florida has developed sufficient organization to now be classified as a tropical depression.
The cyclone is considered tropical instead of subtropical because it has central deep convection and a relatively small radius of maximum wind. The initial intensity is estimated to be 30 knots based on data collected earlier today by the Air Force Hurricane Hunters, and another aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system later this evening.
The current motion of the system is north-northeastward at 11 kt. A continued north-northeastward motion at about the same forward speed is expected during the next 24 hours or so, keeping the cyclone offshore, but parallel to the east coast of Florida.
The system should gradually strengthen during the next couple of days as it remains over the Gulf Stream current and in relatively low wind shear conditions. The NHC intensity forecast calls for the system to become a tropical storm tonight or on Sunday, with continued slow strengthening as it nears the North Carolina coast.
Dangerous coastal surf conditions and rip currents are expected to spread northward from Florida to the mid-Atlantic states during the next few days.
To check the updated beach forecast from the National Weather Service, visit www.weather.gov/beach/mhx. Beach-goers can also text “Join OBXBeachConditions” to 30890 to sign up for text alerts from local Outer Banks Lifeguards on beach conditions.
For more information on the local forecast, visit www.weather.gov/mhx for weather information, or the National Weather Service office in Newport / Morehead City’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity/.