Impact by a tropical or subtropical cyclone is now expected along the U.S. East Coast, and people in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts should prepare for its impacts. The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida now believes there’s a 70% chance that a tropical or subtropical cyclone will form, significantly higher than the 40% odds they had just 48 hours ago.
While the system doesn’t have a name yet, should it become a named tropical or subtropical storm, it would be called “Fay.” If this system is named, it’ll become the earliest “F” storm on record in the Atlantic Basin.
Right now, the system exists as a broad area of low pressure located near the coast of northeastern South Carolina. It continues to produce a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms over the adjacent Atlantic waters and portions of eastern North Carolina. This area of low pressure is expected to move northeastward near or just offshore of the North Carolina Outer Banks tomorrow, and then turn north-northeastward and move along the mid-Atlantic coast Friday. According to the latest outlook just issued by the National Hurricane Center, environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for additional development and a tropical or subtropical cyclone is likely to form within the next day or so.
Regardless of development, the system is expected to produce locally heavy rainfall that could cause some flash flooding across portions of eastern North Carolina, the coastal mid-Atlantic, and southern New England during the next few days. Gusty winds are also possible along the North Carolina Outer Banks through Thursday and along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts Friday and Saturday. Should the storm develop into a named system, the rains could be heavier, the winds could be more damaging, and there could be a threat of storm surge flooding, beach erosion, and rough surf at the coast.
While becoming a tropical storm or subtropical storm is very possible, it is very unlikely to strengthen further into a hurricane. Conditions are not favorable at all for rapid intensification nor are atmospheric steering currents and sea surface temperatures. Of the more than ten primary, major computer forecast models tropical meteorologists use to judge the likelihood of storm intensification, none show this system becoming a hurricane at this time.
However, non-hurricane storms can still be dangerous with flood and wind threats. Residents along the coast from the Mid Atlantic into New England should prepare to deal with such threats by securing outdoor objects and developing plans for heading to higher ground away from coastal flood possibilities.