FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall Saturday morning in North Carolina, with stormy weather spreading over portions of the state. The same day, Tropical Depression Seventeen formed in the central tropical Atlantic and a new tropical wave emerged off the coast of Africa.
As of 2 p.m. Saturday, Ophelia was located about 95 miles south of Richmond, Virginia, and about 80 miles east-northeast of Raleigh, North Carolina. It was moving north at 13 mph with maximum sustained winds decreasing to 45 mph with higher gusts. Tropical-storm-force winds extend out 320 miles.
The center of Ophelia, which formed Friday afternoon, moved across eastern North Carolina Saturday morning, will move into southeastern Virginia Saturday evening, and then the Delmarva Peninsula by the end of the day into and Sunday.
Further weakening is expected through the rest of the weekend, and Ophelia is likely to become a post-tropical cyclone Saturday night or Sunday morning.
The threat of tornadoes exists along portions of the mid-Atlantic coast, and areas of North Carolina and southeast Virginia could see 3 to 5 inches of rain with some areas receiving 7 inches.
Watches and warnings were issued from South Carolina up through the Washington, D.C., area.
Despite moving away from Florida’s east coast to the north, the storm has been causing heavy rainfall and some flooding this past week in South Florida. Swells from Ophelia will affect a large part of the U.S. East Coast over the weekend, forecasters said.
A storm surge warning is in effect from Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, to Chincoteague, Virginia, as well as Chesapeake Bay south of Colonial Beach, Virginia, the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, and portions of Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. Some areas could be 3-5 feet higher than normal.
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Seventeen formed over the central tropical Atlantic late Saturday morning.
As of 11 a.m. Saturday, it was located about 985 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands, moving west at 15 mph. The same general motion, but slightly slower, is expected over the next few days as the system gradually strengthens.
However, it is currently expected to curve north before reaching South Florida.
“While it shows a due-west path, there is expected to be a curve to the north,” said Donal Harrigan, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service Miami. “There’s tons of uncertainty as to how far west or east we’ll go with that curve. I’m not seeing anything that raises a large concern of something reaching South Florida. It looks like this thing is going to stay east of us.”
The next named storm would be Philippe.
A tropical wave also formed off the coast of Africa Saturday afternoon, forecasters said at 2 p.m., producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Environmental conditions should allow it to develop during the middle to later part of next week. It has a 20% chance of forming in the next seven days.
So far this season in the Atlantic, there have been 14 named storms, six of which were hurricanes. Of those, three were major hurricanes, meaning Category 3 or above.
Those were Hurricane Lee, a rare Category 5; Hurricane Franklin, a Category 4; and Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall on Florida’s Big Bend region at Category 3 strength on Aug. 30.
Hurricane season officially runs through Nov. 30.
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