Ahead of July 4th, East Coast eyes tropical storm

NWS’ Strong: Riptides the biggest threats for Del., Md. beaches

WASHINGTON — Tropical Storm Arthur will most likely graduate to hurricane strength overnight on Wednesday, and while it most likely won’t hit the D.C. region hard, it could easily make a different impact on the Delaware and Maryland beaches.

That’s the word from Chris Strong, of the National Weather Service, who spoke with WTOP on Wednesday night at about 7:40.

At that time, Strong said Arthur was off the northeast Florida coast sand heading north and northeast over the next few days.

The most endangered area, Strong says, is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Strong says they’re tracking Arthur “just a bit east of the Outer Banks,” but even so “they’ll still be impacted,” probably on Thursday night.

Landfall over eastern North Carolina is “still a possibility,” though, Strong says; naturally, that would lead to “a more substantial impact.” Some of the most vulnerable areas in that region are already being evacuated, Strong says.

As Thursday turns to Friday, the storm will head northeast, “which will carry it further out to sea,” Strong predicts.

He says that the Delaware and Maryland beaches won’t be hit by the storm itself, but that swimmers should be aware of the potential for rip tides, which can easily carry an unaware swimmer out to open water.

Strong also predicted some winds on Friday morning in the District, but that “hopefully everything will go off as planned” for the 9 p.m. fireworks on the National Mall.

If you’re headed to the Outer Banks to celebrate the Fourth, however, Strong’s advice is to listen closely to weather advisories and potential evacuation orders.

“I would certainly encourage people to be worried.”

Arthur brings gusty winds to area beaches

WASHINGTON – Beachgoers can expect strong winds and possible rip tides if they are headed to the Delmarva Peninsula this weekend thanks to Tropical Storm Arthur.

The strongest winds will arrive Friday, the Fourth of July, when Arthur will be parallel to the peninsula, says Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Beachgoers can expect a strong surf as well, he says.

“I think for the weekend itself, Saturday and Sunday, they’re going to be in great shape. This thing will be up over the North Atlantic by the time we wake up on Saturday morning,” Feltgen says.

Travelers to the Jersey Shore can expect similar conditions including strong surfs, gusty winds and the chance for rip currents.

Any possible storm surges will threaten areas from the Virginia beaches south to the North Carolina and South Carolina coastline, he says.

However if the storm should bend left and head west instead of east, further out to sea as it is expected, the Delmarva beaches could be hit.

For now, the region will be sparred.

“The Delmarva Penninsula itself will not see tropical storm or hurricane conditions,” he says.

Find out more about the holiday weekend’s forecast:

Read on to learn more about the approaching storm.


Hurricane warning issued for N.C. coast

BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — As one of the year’s busiest travel weekends approaches, so does another visitor: Tropical Storm Arthur, expected to grow into a hurricane by the Fourth of July and hit most harshly at North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a popular getaway spot of thin barrier islands along the shore.

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season prompted a hurricane warning for a wide swath of the North Carolina coast and had officials, hotel owners and would-be vacationers as far north as New England carefully watching forecasts.

The Outer Banks will be especially vulnerable, forecasters said. The area’s tourism agency expects about 250,000 people to travel there and stay in hotels and rental homes for the long holiday weekend.

“We want everybody to be safe and prepared, but we are not overly concerned at this point,” said Lee Nettles, the executive director the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. He noted that forecasters were predicting the storm would move fast and be less severe than others in locals’ memories.

But flooding concerns remained: Twice in recent years, storm-driven waves have sliced North Carolina Route 12, the main road along the islands, rendering it unpassable. On Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry, a voluntary evacuation was announced.

Stores saw runs on generators, lanterns and flashlights, but even some workers weren’t yet concerned.

“I’ve been through Irene. I went through Isabelle,” said Bill Motley, who works at Ace Hardware in Nags Head has lived on the Outer Banks for 13 years. “I’m not even worried about this one. I’m more worried about my tomato plants. With the wind coming, if we get a 50-mph gust, it will knock over my tomato plants.”

At a news conference, Gov. Pat McCrory advised residents, “Don’t put your stupid hat on.” With concerns of rip tides, he urged surfers and swimmers not to get in the water regardless of how good the waves might be.

“Our major goal is to ensure that no lives are lost during this upcoming storm,” including those of emergency workers, McCrory said. He declared a state of emergency for 25 coastal and adjoining counties.

Nancy Janitz, 60, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, said she was ready, thanks to technology.

“I have my NOAA radio, and I keep tabs on Twitter and Facebook for updates,” she said. “I’m as prepared as I can possibly be.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Arthur was about 220 miles (355 kilometers) south of Charleston and moving north about 7 mph (11 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). The National Hurricane Center predicted it would grow to a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of at least 74 mph either late Wednesday or sometime Thursday.

The forecast did not call for a landfall in the U.S., but officials and travelers north to New England kept an eye on the storm’s projected path. Many areas warned of upcoming rain, wind and potential rip tides.

The worst of the storm should occur at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about dawn Friday, with 3 to 5 inches of rain and sustained winds up to 85 mph, said Tony Saavedra, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. But forecasters said that by later Friday, the effects of Arthur would be past the Outer Banks, with the rest of the weekend salvaged.

The Hurricane Center predicted the storm would be off the coast of New England later in the day and eventually make landfall in Canada’s maritime provinces as a tropical storm.

In the Myrtle Beach area, the heart of South Carolina’s $18 billion tourism industry, Arthur was expected to move in by Thursday night, spinning wind gusts from 40 to 50 mph toward the high-rise hotels and condominiums lining the oceanfront.

Farther south, in Hilton Head Island on the state’s southern tip, most were confident would pass well out at sea.

“It will be a sold-out weekend,” said Charlie Clark, a spokeswoman for the local Chamber of Commerce. “… We’re not getting calls from visitors asking what’s up with this storm.”

Back on North Carolina’s storm-tested Hatteras Island, one longtime resident said she had stocked up on supplies but was otherwise unfazed by Arthur’s approach.

Even though Dawn Taylor had to put coolers on the top floor of her home in Avon to catch the rain after Hurricane Irene damaged the roof in 2011, she won’t leave her home because of a hurricane. And certainly not this one. Even her 85-year-old father is staying put with her.

And her advice to less experienced tourists? Think twice before riding things out on the island.

“It’s not their environment. They’re not used to it,” she said. “It’s a whole different world out here, a whole different lifestyle.”

___

Associated Press writers Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C.; Matt Small in Washington; and Tony Winton in Miami contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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