Tropical Storm Ophelia is expected to bring heavy rain, strong winds and coastal flooding to the East Coast over the weekend.
Ophelia is the 16th storm system tracked by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) this year. Forecasters predict the storm, previously dubbed Potential Tropical Cyclone Sixteen, could bring a month’s worth of rain to states in its path this weekend.
Ophelia is expected to arrive in parts of southeastern North Carolina Saturday night before heading toward the mid-Atlantic coast, the National Health Commission said in an update Friday evening. Tropical storm warnings were also issued for parts of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, with wind gusts as high as 80 mph in parts of eastern North Carolina.
As of Friday evening, Ophelia was about 100 miles south of North Carolina’s south coast and moving northwest at 10 to 15 mph, the Weather Channel reported. The National Hurricane Center said that as the system moves north, “life-threatening” storm surge could affect parts of coastal North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. If Ophelia temporarily upgrades to a hurricane, parts of southern North Carolina Hurricane conditions are possible in the area.
However, the Weather Channel reports that the tropical storm’s current intensity won’t be much different than a “low-end Category 1 hurricane.” The system is also expected to weaken quickly once it makes landfall.
Heavy rainfall is also expected to extend into New Jersey this weekend, with Ophelia expected to reach parts of southern Pennsylvania early Monday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. Parts of North Carolina and Virginia could receive up to seven inches of rain as the storm passes.
Coastal flooding and life-threatening surf and rip currents are also possible across the East Coast, with water levels as high as four to six feet possible in parts of North Carolina. Southeastern Virginia is expected to be hit by storm surges of up to two to four feet.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency on Friday and said Ophelia was expected to arrive in “large population centers with many high-risk communities.”
“We want to ensure that all communities, especially those expected to have the greatest impacts, have the resources they need to prepare for and recover from the impacts of this storm,” Youngkin said in a news release Friday.
Weekly newspaper The National Hurricane Center was contacted via email Friday evening for comment.