LUMBERTON — Two tropical developments churning in the Northern Atlantic are expected to bring little worry to Robeson County except the potential for heavy rain.
The latest five-day forecast shows the path for Tropical Storm Issac shifting to the west, possibly making landfall near the Alabama-Mississippi border, said Eric Blake, a forecaster with U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Tropical Depression Joyce, with maximum wind gusts reaching 35 mph, is expected to “re-curve” and be more of a threat to Bermuda, said Michael Bass, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, and stay far east of North Carolina.
Bass said it was too early to narrow Issac’s path, but that remnants of the storm may eventually reach Robeson County.
“What might happen is that when Issac comes on shore and moves upward, there may be a potential for some heavy rain next week, probably around Wednesday or Thursday,” Bass said.
Parts of Robeson County are already ahead for the year in terms of rainfall — Lumberton has received about 5 inches more than normal with 39.04 inches of rainfall since January, Bass said.
The weather observatory at Lumberton Municipal Airport has recorded bouts of heavy rain for the past three days.
“In the past 24 hours, the heaviest rain fell on the Bladen and Robeson county lines, from Proctorville up toward Smiths township which is just east of Lumberton — around 1 to 2 inches,” Bass said. “It looked like hardly anything fell in the extreme westward part of the area, maybe a 10th of an inch or so.”
The service predicts more rain to come — a chance of showers this afternoon could bring about 3/4 of an inch to the eastern part of the county, Bass said.
At least one person isn’t complaining at the recent lack of sunny skies.
“We’ve had an excellent growing season this year as a result of the adequate rainfall,” said Mac Malloy, field crops agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. “We had the hottest July on record, but because we had adequate moisture it has brought stress relief to the crops.”
The National Weather Service also predicts that this year’s hurricane season will be more active than most, bringing the potential for not only more rain but also high winds. Five to eight hurricanes, two of which could be category 3 or above, are expected to develop during the remainder of the annual hurricane season, which began on June 1 and will end Nov. 3.
“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions are linked to the ongoing high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also, strong early-season activity is generally indicative of a more active season.”