The National Hurricane Center sent its Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft into a tropical depression churning off the east Florida Coast and confirmed it has strengthened into the year's first named storm. Having a named storm before the season has even begun is not uncommon in America these days - as 2020 is now the sixth year in a row this has happened. Additionally, tropical and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are now warmer than normal and are consequently also considered a factor favouring an active Atlantic hurricane season this year.
On its forecast path Arthur will stay "well offshore" of Florida, Georgia and SC today, the hurricane center said.
The weather service's Wilmington office, which covers southeastern North Carolina and northeastern SC, says the storm's main threats to the area are "dangerous rip currents and elevated seas offshore".
Rip currents and unsafe surf will likely continue through the end of the week.
But rain is in the forecast this week following Arthur's climb toward North Carolina.
"It is very possible that Arthur could make landfall in the Outer Banks Monday morning".
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Since first reporting on the storm this past Tuesday, the system has developed a much tighter rotation patter and a more westerly trajectory, with nearly half of the forecast models showing a direct impact with the Carolinas.
"Maximum sustained winds are near 40 miles per hour (65 km/h) with higher gusts". Persistent northeast winds will trigger tidal flooding through midweek. Gusty winds, locally heavy rainfall, lightning and waterspouts are all possibilities with the strongest storms. "With the northerly wind from Arthur, the water from the sound could push across the island yet again". By Sunday night, the storm's swirling outer rain bands were skirting closer to the coast.
"There will likely be roads that are forced to close on the Outer Banks", Reppert said.
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Rip currents will be at threat in the area, the NWS says. Arthur will also cause high waves in excess of 8 to 10 feet at North Carolina beaches.
WIND: Tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area on Monday.
Last Thursday was the second wettest May day on record for the city of Marathon in the Florida Keys.
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