MIAMI — A system moving through waters off the east coast of the United States has strengthened into a tropical storm and is expected to reach North Carolina Friday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported.
The storm hit North Carolina and South Carolina on Thursday evening with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 km/h). A storm surge warning has been issued, with waves of 91 to 150 centimeters (3 to 5 feet) forecast for parts of North Carolina, the center said.
The storm was located about 570 kilometers (355 miles) southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, and about 635 kilometers (395 miles) south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, as of Thursday evening. It was moving north at a speed of 6 km/h (3 mph), the center said.
Although the system has reached tropical storm strength, it has not yet been given a name and the center speaks of “Potential Cyclone 16”. The center defines a potential tropical cyclone as a weather phenomenon that threatens to bring a hurricane or tropical storm to landfall within 48 hours.
Meteorologist María Torres, public affairs officer for the National Hurricane Center, warned people on the East Coast of the United States to remain vigilant of the storm, purchase essential supplies and prepare for the phenomenon to reach the coast in the next 24 hours 48 hours.
“This will bring strong winds and storm surge to the East Coast over the weekend, essentially from the Southeast to the Mid-Atlantic states,” Torres said by phone from the Miami-based center.
The tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Fenwick Island, Delaware. This also includes Chesapeake Bay, south of Smith Point, Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.
Virginia authorities warned of the threat of heavy rain, strong winds and flooding.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management said on social media that officials are coordinating with local weather authorities to monitor the system. He called on citizens to take precautions because of the impending storm.
The North Carolina Department of Emergency Management warned that storm surge caused by distant Hurricane Nigel could also reach the state’s coasts, making it dangerous to enter the sea. The combination of these surges and the low pressure system could lead to flooding and coastal erosion.
Authorities also issued a warning of possible storm surge from Surf City, North Carolina, to Chincoteague, Virginia. They predicted storm surges of between 60 centimeters and 1.2 meters (2 and 4 feet).
Meanwhile, Hurricane Nigel continued to move northeast toward the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean as a Category 1 storm.
Nigel was located 815 kilometers (505 miles) southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, according to the center. Maximum sustained winds were 140 kilometers per hour (85 miles per hour) and moving northeast at a speed of 48 km/h (30 miles per hour).
Nigel is expected to weaken over the coming days and develop into a post-tropical storm late Thursday or early Friday.