Tropical storm might stir things up after drier weather

After a chance for storms late Saturday, drier air moves in and will prevail for most of next week. However, it's not a question of if – but how – Tropical Storm Fay will affect North Carolina later that week.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A tropical storm that formed over the Dominican Republic on Friday could pose a problem for North Carolina by the end of next week.

"Will it become a hurricane, and will it affect North Carolina?" WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said.

Tropical Storm Fay formed late Friday afternoon as the sixth named storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Saturday morning, the storm was about 175 miles northwest of Port Au Prince, Haiti, and about 50 miles southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba.

"Due to the proximity of land up through the Hispaniola area and Cuba, this will likely not intensify as it heads through the weekend (and) early next week," Maze said. "It's when it merges into the Gulf of Mexico that it could intensify."

Fay was moving west at about 16 mph and had sustained winds of 45 mph at 2 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Fay could weaken slightly Saturday morning, but could regain strength, especially as it travels over warm water.

Forecasters said Fay likely will cross over Haiti on Saturday morning and continue toward Cuba.

Meanwhile, a slow-moving, upper-level area of low pressure will continue to create conditions ripe for scattered thunderstorms Saturday afternoon and evening. The best chance of storms will be in the Sandhills and the Coastal Plain, WRAL Meteorologist Mike Moss said. A slight chance of rain exists for the Triangle.

Highs for Saturday were expected in the mid-80s.

However, drier air will move in Sunday, and partly sunny skies, with no more than isolated storm, will prevail until the end of the work week.

Then, Fay may stir things up in North Carolina, depending on where it goes early next week.

"The consensus of most models is a track over Florida" in the next six days, Maze said. "But if the track is a little farther to the right, and it heads into the Bahamas and stays in the Atlantic, it could intensify into a hurricane and pose a threat to North Carolina. That's why we're going to watch it closely in the coming days."

Maze said that whether Fay will affect North Carolina is not the question – but rather how it will.

"What we see Thursday or Friday will ultimately depend upon the track of Fay," he said. "Will it (bring) remnant rainfall, or will it be a hurricane at the coast?"


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