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Season's first tropical storm likely to pass by NC

Posted May 20, 2012

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— The Atlantic Ocean's first tropical storm of 2012 was churning off South Carolina Sunday, but it is likely to have only minor impacts along the North Carolina coast, said WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth.

The system, named Alberto, reached tropical storm strength in the Atlantic Saturday, but began weakening Sunday as it mingled with drier air and cooler waters.

Still, Wilmoth said, Alberto could bring strong rip tides, high tides and gusty winds to the coast. Some heavy rain is also possible in eastern North Carolina if the storm comes close enough.

Tracking the Tropics iControl Stormtracker -- Tropical Storm Alberto

Hurricane season doesn't officially begin until June 1, but "every so often, you get a storm early," said WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, Alberto was about 300 miles south-southwest of Raleigh and had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, with tropical-storm strength winds going out 70 miles from its center. 

A tropical storm watch covers South Carolina the Savannah River to the South Santee River and could be extended to Georgia later Sunday as Alberto moves west-southwest at 6 mph, Moss said.

"Looks like this system's going to leave North Carolina alone for the time being," Moss said.

Rip Sticker Rip current safety tips

In the most likely scenario, Alberto will continue to move south slowly until it's pushed north by upper-level system blowing in Monday. The storm will pass along the North Carolina coast starting overnight Monday and likely be north of the Virginia border by early Wednesday.

"It looks like it will brush by well off the North Carolina coast if it follows this path," Moss said. "If it follows the path it's forecast on now, it'll have pretty minor affects on eastern North Carolina and very little affect on central portions of the state."

Tropical Storm Alberto forecast Tropical Storm Alberto forecast

But, he added, "there's still a lot of uncertainty about exactly what Alberto's going to do."

Late spring gets warm in NC

Meanwhile, the Triangle and central North Carolina can expect fairly normal weather for the late spring this week.

Sunday will turn more cloudy and the humidity rise as temperatures get close to 80 degrees. That could spark a few isolated showers in the late afternoon and evening, mostly on the coastal plain east of the Triangle.

"You can't rule it out, but a lot of us will miss out on those," Moss said.

Fairly similar weather will prevail the rest of the week: mostly cloudy skies, with a slight chance of late-day showers and storms.

Temperatures will rise throughout the week. The daily high will hang around 80 degrees Sunday and Monday, break into the 80s on Tuesday and be pushing against the 90-degree mark by Friday.


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