Tropical system to develop off the North Carolina coast?

The tropical Atlantic is quiet but that may change over the coming days. Firsthand Weather is keeping a close eye on a low pressure that will develop, moving off the North Carolina coast by early next week.

This low pressure will develop along a slow-moving cold front this weekend, moving off the coast by early next week. This low pressure will need to be monitored closely because the water temperatures off the North Carolina and Mid-Atlantic coast are very warm (notice the orange and red colors on the fig. below). Water temperatures this warm are conducive for tropical development if other environmental and atmospheric conditions align for development.

Fig. 1: Current sea-surface temperatures

The chance for tropical development does remain low overall, and the National Hurricane Center is suggesting no tropical development is expected over the next 5 days. Models are starting to hint at the possibility this low pressure system may try to develop into a tropical system early next week. In fact, the ECMW EPS suggests there’s a medium chance for development.

Fig. 2: Probability of tropical depression development

If a tropical system develops, it would move northeast–away from the North Carolina and Mid-Atlantic coasts. Right now, the chance for tropical development is low, but this system will continue to be monitored by Firsthand Weather Meteorologists.

Regardless of development, this low pressure and associated cold front will provide increasing rain chances to the Carolinas and Southeast this weekend and early next week. Some of the rain may be heavy at times leading to areas of flash flooding. The heaviest rain will fall across coastal parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

Fig. 3: Rainfall forecast over the next few days

Severe storms are likely for parts of the Carolinas and Virginia this afternoon and evening

Severe weather will impact parts of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia this afternoon and evening. There is a marginal (level 1 of 5) and slight risk (level 2 of 5) for severe storms for this region. Within the marginal risk, expect isolated severe storms with more numerous severe storms in the slight risk area.

The main severe concerns are damaging wind gusts up to 75 mph and large hail. All storms will produce heavy rainfall and cloud-to-ground lightning. The tornado threat is extremely low. Please make sure you have a couple of reliable sources to receive accurate weather information from today. Bring the pets indoors as storms approach, and make sure you move indoors if a thunderstorm approaches.

Tropical Development off the Southeast Coast

Tropical development is possible off the Southeast coast over the next few days. A broad area of low pressure is currently located over southern Georiga. This area of low pressure is expected to move off the Southeast coast, possibly developing into a Tropical Depression or Tropical Storm. The National Hurricane Center gives this area of low pressure a 30% chance to develop over the next 5 days.

The environmental conditions are expected to be marginally conducive for some slow development over the weekend and into early next week. The low will move into very warm Gulf Stream waters off the Southeast coast, so this will need to be monitored closely. The next name on the 2021 list for the Atlantic is Fred.

It is too early to determine the track if this system develops, but it does appear this system will move out-to-see. This will continue to be monitored. Regardless, it will create dangerous rip currents along the Southeast coast along with rough seas and spot showers for coastal areas.

Below-average temperatures this week for the South & Southeast

A rare July cold front has snuck south into the South & Southeast, triggering showers and thunderstorms. The uptick in the showers and storms will lead to a relatively cool week. Temperatures will run 5 to 10 degrees below average at times with the coolest temperatures existing through mid-week. Temperatures will warm a few degrees, still running below average, by the end of the week.

Temperature departure from average

Again, temperatures won’t be cold, but we will take below-average temperatures in late July anytime. The cooler temperatures are not due to colder air behind the cold front (there is none) but from the uptick in showers and storm coverage with the front.

The showers and storms will produce heavy rain through mid-week. 1 to 3 inches of rain will fall with isolated 5-inch amounts. This will lead to areas of flash flooding across the South & Southeast.

Rainfall forecast

Elsa to impact the entire East Coast

Elsa made landfall as a Tropical Storm this morning north of Tampa Bay, Florida. Elsa will continue to track northeast through the Southeast, into the Carolinas, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast from mid-week through the end of the week. Elsa will weaken through Thursday into a Depression, but regain Tropical Storm status off the coast of the Northeast Friday as the system moves back over water.

The main concern is heavy rain with Elsa as the system moves northeast. Widespread 2-5″ of rain can be expected from Florida, into eastern Georgia, through the eastern Carolinas, and coastal parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This will lead to isolated areas of flash flooding.

There is also a risk for strong wind gusts and isolated tornadoes. The tornado threat with Elsa on Wednesday will be for northern Florida, eastern Georgia, eastern South Carolina, and southern North Carolina.

The tornado threat shifts north on Thursday into eastern North Carolina and coastal Virginia.

Latest on Elsa

Tropical Storm Elsa intensified Tuesday morning as the storm moved over the warm waters of the Florida Straits. Elsa now has winds of 60 mph with higher gusts. Elsa has started to turn more north with a forward motion of 10 mph to the NNW.

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Additional strengthening is likely Tuesday into Wednesday with Elsa nearing Hurricane status Wednesday morning before landfall just north of Tampa Bay. The current forecast calls for Elsa to make landfall as a strong Tropical Storm with sustained winds of 70 mph.

Elsa will turn northeast, moving through Florida, southeast Georgia, eastern South Carolina, eastern North Carolina, followed by ocean reentry off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic. Elsa will weaken into a Tropical Depression as it tracks north through Georgia and the Carolinas mid to late week. Restrengthening into a Tropical Storm is possible Friday as the system moves back over waters.

The main impact will be heavy rain to the east of the center of the storm, but isolated tornadoes and gusty winds are a hazard too. A detailed article on the impacts will come out later today.