Tropical Storm Ophelia formed on the Atlantic coast Friday afternoon and threatens to bring heavy rain, storm surge and strong winds to the East Coast this weekend, the National Hurricane Center said.
Ophelia is moving closer to the Mid-Atlantic, with heavy impacts felt in parts of North Carolina and Virginia.
Ophelia had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and was moving at 12 mph, according to a 2 p.m. ET advisory from the Miami-based center. The storm was centered about 150 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. It was forecast to make landfall on Saturday morning.
Rain was already moving inland across North Carolina by midday Friday, with some areas in the eastern parts of the state and southeastern Virginia expecting up to 7 inches, forecasters said. A storm surge warning is in effect for some areas, with waves of 3 to 5 feet expected for parts of North Carolina, according to the Hurricane Center.
Schools in coastal areas of North Carolina and Virginia plan to dismiss students and cancel after-school and weekend activities as early as Friday.
CBS affiliate WKTR reported The storm is expected to affect North Carolina on Friday and last through Saturday evening or Sunday morning. Rain will be heaviest Friday night into Saturday morning, with three to six inches of rain expected during the storm area. The area will remain under a flood watch from 2 p.m. Friday until noon Sunday, with several inches of storm surge expected. Wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour will also be expected in coastal areas.
A tropical storm warning is in effect from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Fenwick Island, Delaware. It includes the Chesapeake Bay south of the North Shore, the tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.
North Carolina Emergency Management warned that large swells from distant Hurricane Nigel could reach the state’s coast on Thursday, adding to the current risk. The combination of those swells and a low pressure system could mean additional sea level, coastal erosion and coastal flooding.
After crossing North Carolina, the storm will move into southeastern Virginia. Virginia emergency management officials are warning of heavy rain, high winds and flooding over the next few days.
Friday afternoon, Virginia Governor Glenn Young declared a state of emergency He also said that the state’s emergency response team will remain active until the storm passes.
“It’s clear based on recent forecasts that as this storm organizes and strengthens, there will be impacts across the Commonwealth,” Youngin said. “We want to ensure that all communities, especially those expected to have the greatest impact, have the resources they need to recover from the effects of this storm. As this storm has the potential to have multiple impacts in many areas. The Commonwealth, all Virginians and visitors should follow the latest forecast from a reliable source for their area, develop a plan and I also encourage them to have their emergency kits ready.”
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management said Thursday on social media that officials are coordinating with local weather service offices to watch for a system forming along the coast.
Storm surge warnings are in effect from Duck, North Carolina to Chincoteague, Virginia, including the Chesapeake Bay south of Windmill Point, and along the Neuse River, Pamlico River and Pamlico Sound. Storm surge watches are issued from Surf City, North Carolina to Tuck, North Carolina, and north of the Chesapeake Bay from Windmill Point to Smith Point, the Tidal Potomac south to Colony Beach and Albemarle, and the rest of Pamlico Sound.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Nigel was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone about 640 miles (1,030 kilometers) northwest of the Azores, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph). There were no associated coastal watches or warnings as the storm moved northeast at 37 mph (59 kph), the hurricane center said in its final update on the computer Friday morning.