A tropical storm bearing down on the Gulf Coast may drive more rainy weather to North Carolina by Friday.
If it does, the local region will be susceptible to flooding, the National Weather Service said.
“Because of the rains experienced in the past days, we call that priming the pump,” meteorologist Brandon Locklear said Tuesday. “The water table is high. Any rain that comes now will be runoff into our rivers, because the ground is saturated.”
The National Hurricane Center upgraded the tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday afternoon. Tropical Storm Cindy is the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. It has the potential to bring 10 to 15 inches of rainfall in some areas along the Gulf Coast by 7 a.m. Friday.
The hurricane center on Monday issued a tropical storm warning for most of the coast of Louisiana and extended the warning to southeast Texas on Tuesday. Tropical storms have wind speeds of 39 to 73 mph. Forecasts show the warning zone could experience winds from the storm as early as Tuesday afternoon.
The effect on North Carolina will depend on how the storm interacts with a slow-moving cold front sweeping in from the west. The rain could come in waves from Friday to Monday, Locklear said.
“It could be as early as Friday by some models; others indicate it could be more like Sunday,” he said. “Right now, what we can say is there’s a potential as early as Friday we could start seeing some heavy rainfall.”
Experts are anticipating 11 to 17 named storms this season, 5 to 9 of which are expected to become hurricanes. Those projections are above average but slightly less than the activity realized in recent years.
“What that doesn’t tell you is once they form, what’s the chance they make landfall,” Locklear said. “It’s a numbers game. It’s tough.”