Hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings are in effect as Tropical Storm Arthur continues to gather organization and strength as it swirls towards the Carolina coast. Meteorologists expect it Arthur hit coastal North Carolina as a hurricane with winds around 80 MPH on Thursday night.

After barely drifting over the past couple of days, Arthur finally started to move today as the trough in the jet stream draws closer and provides the storm some steering. The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center has a 60 MPH Tropical Storm Arthur churning about 105 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida as it slowly moves to the north at 7 MPH.

The forecast track has Arthur making a brief landfall on North Carolina's Outer Banks sometime after midnight on Friday as a category 1 hurricane with winds around 80 MPH. Coastal areas of South and North Carolinas will feel tropical storm force winds before the center hits, prompting the issuance of tropical storm warnings from the N.C./S.C. border to the N.C./V.A. border.

The main hazards with Arthur include:

  • A dangerous storm surge of 2 to 4 feet along the North Carolina coast where the strong winds occur, with a smaller surge expected elsewhere.
  • 1 to 2 inches of rain are possible, with isolated amounts of up to 4 or more inches of rain possible when Arthur makes landfall.
  • Wind damage is likely in the communities that receive hurricane-force winds.
  • Life-threatening rip currents are already occurring along the Florida coast, and they will spread northward to South Carolina by this afternoon according to the NHC. Rip currents are a hazard up and down the east coast this weekend as Arthur heads north.

Meteorologically, Arthur looks a little more compact and well-organized than it did last night. Sometime after midnight the storm began to develop an eye on both radar and satellite imagery, which has remained ever since. Radar and satellite show that the storm is asymmetric, with almost all of the precipitation confined to the eastern and southern side of the storm.

The storm should continue to organize into a hurricane over the next day or two as it approaches the coast, reaching its peak during or just after its encounter with North Carolina, before racing off to the northeast and threatening Atlantic Canada as a powerful storm later this weekend.

The next advisory from the National Hurricane Center will come out at 5 PM Eastern.

[Radar images via Gibson Ridge, map by the author using NHC data]