RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — As of 11 a.m., Tropical Storm Arthur is just 20 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm, which had not strengthened any since Sunday afternoon, had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph – up from 45 mph at 8 a.m.
Arthur is moving north-northeast at 16 mph and the storm is expect to turn more out to sea later Monday.
Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, according to the NHC, but the storm is likely going to lose its tropical designation on Tuesday.
“On the forecast track, the center of Arthur will begin moving away from the North Carolina Outer Banks this afternoon. Arthur is then forecast to turn away from the east coast of the United States tonight and Tuesday,” NHC said.
A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for Surf City to Duck and in the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds, according to the National Hurricane Center.
On Sunday, the outer rainbands of the storm began hitting the North Carolina coast. Those rainbands continued spreading into the eastern portion of the state as of 5 a.m. Monday. By 8 a.m., Arthur was already bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to parts of the state.
Arthur is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 1 to 3 inches over coastal North Carolina through Monday afternoon, with isolated amounts of 5 inches.
Arthur has picked up in speed slightly since the 2 a.m. update when it was moving north-northeast at 12 mph. As of 5 a.m., it was moving north-northeast at approximately 14 mph. Its speed ticked up to 15 mph as of the 8 a.m. update.
The storm has become more compact. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the center of the storm. On Sunday, the same winds could be felt 125 miles out from the center.
The weather service said eastern North Carolina should prepare for some localized flooding and dangerous marine conditions along the coast.
“Minor inundation from storm surge is possible for very low-lying areas adjacent to the ocean, sounds, and rivers, with overwash of dunes and flooding of properties and roadways possible for locations where dune structures are weak,” mainly north of Cape Lookout, the weather service said.
Dangerous coastal surf conditions and rip currents are expected to spread northward from Florida to the mid-Atlantic states during the next few days.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents along the coast to pay close attention to the storm and “don’t take chances in dangerous surf.”
While there may be a component of warming waters and climate change in other pre-June storms, Arthur is more of a subtropical storm system than a traditional named storm and its water is cooler than what’s usually needed for storm formation, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
A lot of these out-of-season storms are weak fleeting ones that meteorologists can see now because of satellites and better technology and would have been missed in earlier times, Klotzbach said. Like most earlier-than-usual storms, Arthur is likely to remain offshore, but could come relatively close to North Carolina’s coast Monday, Klotzbach said.
Hurricane season officially starts June 1.
Local forecasters in the Bahamas said showers have lingered over the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, which are still struggling to recover after being hit by a Category 5 hurricane last year. However, no flooding has been reported as the depression swirls just northwest of the archipelago and is expected to head into open ocean as it strengthens.
Officials said they were prepared to evacuate patients currently housed in tents in Grand Bahama after Hurricane Dorian damaged the island’s hospital, but forecasters said the bulk of thunderstorms are located north and east of the depression and are not expected to affect the region.
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