July 8, 2020

A Tropical System Could Develop Off The Mid-Atlantic Coast This Week


A disturbance just off the Carolina coast has a high chance of developing into a tropical system over the next day or so as it moves north. Regardless of the system’s development, gusty winds and heavy rain are possible across coastal communities from North Carolina to New England through the end of the week.


Conditions over the western Atlantic Ocean are conducive for the system to develop. The National Hurricane Center gives the system a high—70 percent—chance of development in the next few days. The system’s proximity to the coast wouldn’t give it much time or space to strengthen, though, so the window for development is relatively short.

Given its location and short window, this one of those cases where the resulting storm would be relatively weak; if that remains the case, there won’t be too much of a difference between a disorganized disturbance and a system that earns a name and advisories from the National Hurricane Center. The effects will still be the same, with gusty winds and bursts of heavy rain that could lead to occasional flash flooding in some spots.


North Carolina’s Outer Banks could see 3 to 4 inches of rain from the system over the next few days. A couple of inches of rain are possible along the track of the system as it moves into New England through the weekend. It's not a tremendous amount by any means, but a heavy tropical downpour that lasts a little while can lead to isolated flooding issues. This could be a greater issue in the Philly metro area where the ground is saturated from heavy storms the other day.

The disturbance began life as a complex of thunderstorms over the Deep South late last week. Without any large-scale patterns to mix up the atmosphere and steer things along, the remnant trough has slowly drifted across the southeast toward North Carolina for the last few days, bringing heavy showers and thunderstorms to communities along its path.

If the disturbance develops into a tropical storm, the next name on 2020’s list for the Atlantic basin is Fay. This would be the sixth named storm so far this season, again setting a record for the most named storms we’ve seen so early in the year. This year’s hurricane season began on May 16 with Tropical Storm Arthur, continuing with a series of small and weak storms that developed over the following couple of weeks.

[Satellite: NOAA]

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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