Published: 2016-08-31 05:33:00
Updated: 2016-08-31 17:39:39
Posted August 31
Raleigh, N.C. — Tropical Storm Hermine reached maximum sustained winds of 45 mph Wednesday evening in the Gulf of Mexico on a path which would take it along the North Carolina coast early Saturday.
Hermine is likely to rapidly intensify on a track towards the peninsula of Florida and north along the Atlantic coast.
Activity pushed by the system – heavy surf and thunderstorms – spread from the Gulf of Mexico across the Florida peninsula and up the east coast. The track of the storm keeps the potential for wind and rain in the forecast for the eastern part of North Carolina through about midday on Saturday.
The latter half of the holiday weekend should be clear, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
"If you go (to the beach) on Saturday, by lunchtime most of this will be over," she said. "You should be able to salvage your holiday weekend."
Rain chances will increase across the region into Thursday as a slow-moving front approaches, Gardner said.
"Everything is about to change for us," she said.
Tropical Storm Hermine prompted the U.S. National Hurricane Center to issue a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch for areas of Florida's Gulf Coast. The tropical storm warning covers an area from Anclote River to the Walton County-Bay County line.
Forecasters say they expect the storm to turn northeast toward Florida sometime Wednesday.
As the storm tracks across Florida and Georgia on Thursday night and into Friday, wind speeds could increase to 70 mph. The storm could maintain those wind speeds as it moves northeast past the North Carolina coast.
Gardner said Hermine is not expected to make landfall after it crosses over Florida. It will likely brush by the Carolina coast and Outer Banks, but the high wind could have an effect on coastal cities, including Wilmington, Morehead City and Buxton.
"We could see windy conditions up and down the coast, and between 4 and 8 inches or rain," Gardner said.
In the Triangle, the storm shouldn't generate more than a half-inch to 1 inch of rain as the approaching front stalls over the region.
The storm will move through the eastern shoreline of NC Friday into Saturday before racing back out into the Atlantic Ocean by midday Saturday.