Weather

First tropical depression forms, could hit NC coast Thursday

Posted June 30

— The first tropical depression of the hurricane season formed off the Florida coast Monday night, and could become Tropical Storm Arthur - the first named storm of the season - if wind speeds exceed 39 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

The Atlantic depression, which was located east of Miami Monday night with wind speeds at 35 mph, may strengthen to near hurricane strength as it approaches the North Carolina coast, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

"If it doesn't turn out to be a big system that requires a lot of cleanup, the timetable shows that it'll pull out by July 4," he said.

The storm is currently projected to miss the North Carolina coast, but that path could quickly change, Fishel said. On Thursday, the center of the storm could travel anywhere between central North Carolina and hundreds of miles off the coast.  Fireworks Find Fourth of July fireworks near you

"And any of those things is more likely than the other," said Fishel, who added that any storm impact should have minimal effect on the Triangle.

Tourists, restaurateurs have eye on sky

Keeping an eye on the tropics is a scenario that vacationers are not used to so early in the season. 

“We've been coming down for a long time, and I don't think I've ever had to prepare for a tropical storm this early, so yeah, it's a little bit of a surprise,” said Jesse Stump.

Those who managed to book the in-demand Independence Day week plan to make the most of it while watching the weather.

Those who entertain those coastal visitors are making plans as well. 

"We're not going to talk about that," said Steve Kiousis, owner of Stack'em High Pancakes. "I don't want to jinx us!

"We saw that on The Weather Channel yesterday and hopefully it will dissipate. We never want to wish something like that on anybody."

Several different tracks are predicted for the storm.

"Most computer models are carrying the system just offshore," Fishel said. "A few models are taking it right up along the North Carolina coast."

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