Only a handful of tropical storms have formed off of the southeastern US coast in early July since 1851. Reaching hurricane intensity is even more rare and an incredible nuisance for the Independence Holiday. But that’s what we have now and it appears Arthur may be stronger than first expected. It looked like it was trying to evacuate an eye as the last visible satellite image late afternoon.
The 2013 season may have started with two named storms in June, but it wasn’t until September 11th when the first hurricane intensity was achieved with Humberto in the eastern Atlantic.
Officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island starting at 5 a.m. Thursday. Home to the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the island is a narrow spit of land, and the two-lane North Carolina Highway 12 is the only way to the mainland other than ferries to the south. Twice in recent years, storm-driven waves have sliced N.C. 12, rendering it impassable.
A voluntary evacuation was announced earlier for the Outer Banks' Ocracoke Island, which is accessible only by ferry.
Hurricane Alberto is currently sitting over very warm water of the Gulf Stream, with very light winds aloft allowing for rapid development. With the center identified with more precision now, this gives a better understanding of how close the impact will be on the coast. The location appears to be a little farther west, meaning a greater impact along the coastline.
Note that this a just a slight adjustment and forecast tracks show a cone of error with possible shifts along the way. But the latest outlooks does have a lock with landfall near Morehead City and then along Cape Hatteras or slightly inland in North Carolina, but still curving out to the Atlantic south of Virginia Beach. A trip farther inland would bring hurricane force winds to a larger area, but also weaken the storm. Moderate storm surge would lead to flooding and beach erosion on OBX, but a wider risk of isolated tornadoes might chase more people to evacuate.
Conditions will degrade all day and evening, but landfall will be after midnight into Friday morning. The worst conditions will be at daybreak on July 4th, then the storm moves out to sea with an improvement into the afternoon.
Initially Arthur was expected to just barely reach Category 1 intensity with 75 mph winds. Since the storm is already there and has another 20+ hours to grow, it could reach Category 2 as suggested by a few computer model outlooks.
SUMMARY OF 500 AM EDT...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
ABOUT 340 MI...545 KM SW OF CAPE HATTERAS NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 190 MI...305 KM SSW OF CAPE FEAR NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...N OR 10 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...985 MB...29.09 INCHES
Watches and Warnings are posted below...
Prior Arthur reports:
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WATCHES AND WARNINGS
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY...
THE HURRICANE WARNING HAS BEEN EXTENDED NORTHWARD FROM DUCK NORTH
CAROLINA TO THE NORTH CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...
A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* SURF CITY NORTH CAROLINA TO THE NORTH CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER
* PAMLICO SOUND
* EASTERN ALBEMARLE SOUND
A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* LITTLE RIVER INLET TO SOUTH OF SURF CITY
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* SOUTH SANTEE RIVER SOUTH CAROLINA TO SOUTH OF SURF CITY
* THE NORTH CAROLINA/VIRGINIA BORDER TO CAPE CHARLES LIGHT
VIRGINIA...INCLUDING THE MOUTH OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
* WESTERN ALBEMARLE SOUND
A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED
SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE
AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION.
A HURRICANE WATCH MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE
WITHIN THE WATCH AREA. ANY DEVIATION OF THE FORECAST TRACK TO THE
LEFT...OR AN INCREASE IN THE FORECAST SIZE OF ARTHUR WOULD LIKELY
REQUIRE THE ISSUANCE OF HURRICANE WARNINGS FOR ALL OR PART OF THE
HURRICANE WATCH AREA.
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA.
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Facebook: Justin Berk, Meteorologist