Tropical Storm Ophelia grows in the southeast Atlantic. What the forecast track shows

Tropical Storm Ophelia strengthened Friday afternoon, the season’s 15th-named storm. Ophelia is expected to arrive on North Carolina’s coast sometime Friday night. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for part of eastern North Carolina. Storm surge warnings were issued earlier Friday.

Here are the latest updates on the storm and another disturbance in the Atlantic from the National Hurricane Center:

Tropical Storm Ophelia

Movement: The system was about 120 miles southeast of Cape Fear, South Carolina, and about 165 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in the hurricane center’s 5 p.m. Friday advisory.

The system is expected to move north to north-northwest over the weekend, followed by a slight turn to the north.

On the forecast track, the center of Ophelia will approach the coast of North Carolina Friday night, and then move across eastern North Carolina, southeastern Virginia, and the Delmarva Peninsula Saturday and Sunday.

Strength: Maximum sustained winds were 70 mph with higher gusts late Friday afternoon and the system was moving north-northwest at 13 mph. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 275 miles from the center.

Watches and warnings:

A hurricane watch has been issued for the coast of North Carolina from north of Surf City to Ocracoke Inlet.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Cape Fear to Fenwick Island; Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds; Tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island and Chesapeake Bay south of North Beach.

A storm surge warning is in effect for Bogue Inlet, North Carolina to Chincoteague, Virginia; Chesapeake Bay south of Colonial Beach, Virginia; Neuse and Pamlico Rivers; and portions of Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

Forecast: Little change in strength is forecast before landfall along the coast of North Carolina. Weakening is expected after landfall through the rest of the weekend, according to hurricane specialist Amanda Reinhart’s 5 p.m. Friday advisory.

A few tornadoes are possible Friday night through Saturday for portions of the mid-Atlantic coast, according to the hurricane center.

Portions of eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia could see 3 to 5 inches of rain with isolated higher totals around 7 inches into Sunday morning. Across southern New York through southern New England 1 to 3 inches of rain could fall Saturday into Monday.

South Florida marine

Tropical Storm Ophelia will affect weather on the South Florida coast in terms of marine conditions. And it is expected to bring tropical-storm conditions to portions of the southeast and mid-Atlantic coasts.

The National Weather Service in Miami said Friday that hazardous marine conditions are forecast to develop across Atlantic waters off of Palm Beach County over the weekend, along with a high rip current risk, due to elevated seas associated with a northerly swell from Potential Tropical Cyclone 16. An elevated risk for rip currents may affect Miami-Dade and Broward beaches, too.

The next intermediate advisory will be at 8 p.m. and next complete advisory at 11 p.m.

A wave in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean

Shower and thunderstorm activity associated with an area of low pressure several hundred miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands decreased slightly since Friday morning, according to hurricane specialists David and Rachel Zelinsky’s 2 p.m. Friday advisory.

The system is still expected to grow into a tropical depression over the weekend and was moving west at 10 to 15 mph. The system is expected to turn west-northwest early next week as it moves over the central tropical Atlantic.

Formation chance through 48 hours: 70%.

Formation chance through seven days: 90%.

Tropics map on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.
Tropics map on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.