It was too soon to say Tuesday if a system sitting about halfway between Florida and the Bahamas would develop into a named subtropical or tropical storm but there is that potential.

The area could be seeing an early start to the tropical storm season this week — and it wouldn’t be the first time.

“The season starts June 1 and continues through Nov. 30 and that’s the normal climatology for when storms occur, but we have had storms develop before and after those dates,” said Bel Melendez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Newport, which includes Onslow County in its forecast area.

It was too soon to say Tuesday if a system sitting about halfway between Florida and the Bahamas would develop into a named subtropical or tropical storm but there is that potential.

“We are monitoring and watching,” Melendez said.

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season kicked off with two tropical storms in May: tropical storm Alberto, the first system of the year, developed May 19 and was followed soon after by a second tropical cyclone, Beryl.

As of a Tuesday update, the National Hurricane Center was giving the system a low, or 20 percent chance, of developing within 48 hours and a medium, or 40 percent chance, of developing within five days.

Models showed an area of low pressure developing into a depression or storm by Thursday or Friday and tracking slowly northward and skirting the coast of the Carolinas.

While it was too far out to say what specific impacts may be, if it does develop the area will likely see rain as well as rough surf and high sea conditions not favorable for boating.

“We’re recommending that people along the Carolina coast pay attention to it,” said Steve Pfaff of the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office. “We don’t think the impacts will be extreme, but if it does get close to the coast it could cause an increase of winds and certainly rain.”

If the potential storm nears the Carolina coast, Pfaff added, it could lead to some flooding in the area.

The timing of the storm could affect its formation, Pfaff said, because it is so early in the season that water isn’t yet warm enough to support the development of a tropical storm.

“That really isn’t favorable,” Pfaff said, “but the models have been pretty aggressive with showing this thing developing over the next several days.”

Whatever the forecast, it is always best to be prepared for storm or disaster, said Vicki LaBelle, executive director for the Onslow County Chapter of the Red Cross.

“We’ll be watching the forecast and we’re always ready with resources as needed,” she said. “This is also a great reminder to the public that it is a good time to update their emergency preparedness kit, and the easiest way to do that is to go to go to the website for a list of items they may need.”

LaBelle said the website is a helpful resource that includes links to Red Cross mobile emergency and hurricane apps that will keep you informed in case of a storm or disaster.

While the tropical season may be getting an early start, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will also be an active season.

Forecasts for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season indicate a relatively quiet one.

Forecasts from researchers at North Carolina State University as well as Colorado State University were released last month and each indicated the season should be less active than averages from 1950 to the present.

The NCSU forecast indicated the 2015 season should see four to six named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

Of those named storms, one to three may grow into hurricanes and one may become a major hurricane.

The Colorado State University forecasts seven named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane.


Adam Wagner of the Wilmington Star-News contributed to this report.