A hurricane watch has been issued for a small part of the North Carolina coast ahead of Tropical Storm Ophelia making landfall early Saturday morning.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area with winds possibly reaching 75 mph. The Hurricane Watch is in effect for north of Surf City, North Carolina to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the rest of the North Carolina coast and all the way to the I-95 corridor. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Tropical storm force winds are those at or above 39 mph.

The developing area of low pressure meandering off the east coast became Tropical Storm Ophelia Friday afternoon, but the storm continued to strengthen Friday night and winds are all the way up to 70 mph.

This puts Ophelia very close to hurricane strength. A tropical system becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph and while that is not in the forecast, it is possible the storm could briefly become a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall early Saturday morning.

This change in strength and name would not impact the forecast conditions expected in central North Carolina.

Rain and wind will continue Friday night through Saturday morning before rain moves out and winds calm down Saturday afternoon.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional updates.

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This forecast was prepared by the CBS 17 Storm Team and is based on the latest information available and years of weather forecasting in North Carolina. It was not produced by a computer like many forecasts you find on the web, social media and smart phone apps.