Officials watching storm build off coast

First Posted: 6/30/2014

WILMINGTON — Some Robeson County residents may have to cancel their holiday beach plans on Thursday and Friday due to early reports of a developing tropical storm forming off the coast of Florida.

The National Weather Service office in Wilmington has been monitoring a storm which it says is showing signs of becoming a tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours.

“It is an area of low pressure at the tail end of the storm that was detected the other day that has caused concern. That is typically a sign we look for,” said meteorologist Steve Pfaff. “We think it will slowly intensify. The biggest question is how close to the coast is it going to get?”

The timing of the storm, which Pfaff says could likely touch land on either Thursday or Friday night, has Pfaff concerned about those who choose to travel for Fourth of July weekend.

“With the holiday upon us, I think it is going to make it very difficult for people,” Pfaff said. “It will have a societal impact, for sure.”

Though at the moment the National Weather Service is forecasting an 80 percent chance of a tropical storm forming, they are not yet advising that residents cancel any travel plans.

The storm would likely have the greatest impact on those communities on North Carolina’s outer banks, with Robeson County receiving only scattered showers.

“In Robeson County we don’t see much of a wind threat at all, but mostly rain,” said meteorologist Tim Armstrong. “But the system should move fast enough that there should be no worry about flooding.”

According to Armstrong, if a tropical storm does form, it would be the first storm of the season to earn a name. In this case, the name would be “Arthur.”

Aside from potential scattered rain, the National Weather Service is predicting that Thursday will bring a high of 92 degrees and a low of 73 degrees, with a 30 percent chance of rain. On Friday, the forecast calls for highs of 90 degrees and lows of 70 degrees, with a 40 percent chance of rain.

A tropical storm is defined as an intense, localized low-pressure wind system that forms over tropical oceans and is coupled with hurricane force winds. In order to be defined as a tropical storm, it must have winds that sustain a speed between 39 to 73 mph.