Hurricane warning until 1:45 a.m. todayPublished 2:39pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The first tropical storm of the season is currently on track toward eastern North Carolina, a fact that has Beaufort County Emergency Management intently monitoring the situation.
“We’ll get tropical storm force gusts, but not sustained tropical storm winds,” said Emergency Management Coordinator John Pack. “It’s really going to fly by us. They even might get the fireworks in Friday night if that happens.”
Storm projections have Tropical Storm Arthur likely intensifying into a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 80 mph off the Carolina coast on Friday. Pack said that if the current track holds, it will put Beaufort County in the northeast quadrant of the storm, which is good news for the area — the northeast quadrant is the weaker part of the storm.
Pack said the brunt of the storm in Beaufort County will likely come between 11 p.m. Thursday night and 6 a.m. Friday morning, as track models have been steadily consolidating into one indicating the storm will hit the southern part of the Outer Banks.
“On the current track, Ocracoke will experience hurricane force winds up to 90 mph for a few hours,” Pack said.
Tuesday morning, National Weather Service staff said rainfall would fall in the 1 to 2 inches range for the area; by early afternoon, the estimate had been revised to 3 to 4 inches. It’s a forecast that could be very problematic for eastern North Carolina, Pack said. Because the region has seen a lot of rain this year — much more than the average — flooding is a real concern.
“The weather service is going to issue a flood warning because of how wet it’s been,” Pack said. “It’s four to six inches higher than we’ve ever had before. That’s significant.”
The system has been on Pack’s radar since last week. Tuesday, he coordinated with North Carolina Emergency Management and local Emergency Operations Center staff, forming a game plan for a system with the potential to cause some major damage. If required, shelters will be opened, but Pack said he is hesitant to issue voluntary flood evacuations until more concrete data comes in.
“This is a very unusual storm — very unusual,” he said. “I’ve been looking and I can’t find a similar one in history.”
What’s unusual is that the storm continues to form off Florida, and is hugging the East Coast, holding to the Gulf Stream, Pack said.
“This is what we call a short notice hurricane because you get very little notice as to what we’re looking at getting,” Pack said. “The ones that meander around are the one’s that can really pose a threat.”
In August 2011, the large and slow moving Hurricane Irene wrought havoc on eastern North Carolina; in September 1999, ground saturation from the meandering Tropical Storm Dennis brought about major flooding during and after Hurricane Floyd just weeks later. Both storms did far more damage to the area than was predicted.
Pack said updates from the National Weather Service will be coming in throughout the day. He urged local residents to go ahead and start preparing for the weather.
“Start immediately. It doesn’t need to wait,” Pack said.
At time of print, there was no word on storm surge probabilities.