Potential impacts, particularly along the southern coast, include tropical storm force winds, rainfall of 4 to 8 inches and minimal to moderate storm surge.

Will he or won’t he?

Thursday’s forecast for Hurricane Matthew still keeps the storm off of the North Carolina coast; however, weather service officials caution that the exact forecast track is uncertain, and the possibility exists for a westerly track that would bring the storm into the state.

“The latest National Hurricane Center forecast has not changed much since yesterday afternoon,” the Thursday 5 a.m. threats and impact briefing from the National Weather Service in Newport, whose forecast area also includes Onslow County. “Models have returned to a consensus of keeping Matthew well off of our coast, but confidence remains low in the exact forecast track.”

Potential impacts, particularly along the southern coast, include tropical storm force winds, rainfall of 4 to 8 inches and minimal to moderate storm surge.

Onslow and Carteret counties could see winds of 35 to 45 mph and gusts up to 55 mph late beginning Saturday afternoon and continuing through Sunday, according to the NWS. Southern Pamlico Sound and the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers could see levels 2 to 4 feet above normal, and coastline erosion from high surf and breaking waves is to be expected.

“North Topsail Beach will be especially vulnerable to erosion and some ocean front surge flooding,” the briefing states.

A small craft advisory is in effect and seas of 7 to 10 feet will build to 10 to 15 in coastal waters and 20 feet in offshore waters in the coming days. There continues to be a high threat of rip currents and rough surf.

“It is still within the margin of error for the storm to pass closer to the coast which would increase the impacts across coastal areas and inland,” the briefing reads. “We urge continued vigilance and preparations for the potential for Matthew to track much closer to the coast and bring more significant impacts across the area.”