A tropical system growing in the Caribbean may soon spell the end of what has mostly been a dry transition from summer to fall in North Carolina and other parts of the Southeast, but not until the end of the weekend.
As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, the storm was labeled a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph with higher gusts.
But the storm was projected to strengthen to a tropical storm overnight, at which time it would be named Nate, and then a hurricane over the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“The system is forecast to continue strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico and could affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane this weekend, with direct impacts from wind, storm surge and heavy rainfall,” the center said. “However, it is too early to specify the timing or magnitude of these impacts.”
The forecast path shows the storm moving into the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm by 8 a.m. Saturday and approaching the Florida Panhandle as a hurricane at about 8 a.m. Sunday. The forecast shows the storm reaching the Carolinas by Monday morning. North and South Carolina could begin to feel winds from the storm as early as late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
While it’s still early to predict the intensity and exact path of the storm, early forecasts from the National Hurricane Center show it developing into a hurricane as it nears the Florida Panhandle and weakening to a depression again as it nears the Carolinas.
“Even if it becomes a tropical storm or a hurricane, it moves fairly quickly into the Gulf, and then it works along the Appalachians and it does bring us some moisture,” ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker said Wednesday. “I do think we will see some rain from this system … Sunday into Monday, even on into Tuesday.”