If you are able to get in a little beach time between the rain showers this Memorial Day weekend, watch out for possible rip currents.
An increased threat of dangerous rip currents will be one of the primary impacts this weekend and early next week along area beaches as the forecast continues to show a strong probability of a low pressure area in the Atlantic developing into a tropical storm.
Meteorologist Casey Dail of the National Weather Service in Newport, which includes Onslow County in its forecast area, said the expected local impacts have not changed much over the past three days. Scattered rain showers with localized heavy rains are expected throughout Eastern North Carolina and along the coast, beach communities can expect an increased risk of rip currents.
“Not much has changed. We’re looking at an increased risk of rip currents and localized heavy rains (today) and continuing into early next week,” Dail said.
For those who may be making a trip to the beach, the NWS office in Newport has a new beach forecast page that can be accessed at weather.gov/beach/mhx for more information about what the rip current threat is for the day and how to avoid them.
Officials in area beach towns said they’ll be monitoring storm impacts, including the possibility of dangerous rip currents.
In Emerald Isle, lifeguards are now on duty for the summer at its two main beach accesses and will be watching for rip currents as well as other town personnel.
“I think the most likely impacts are rip current threats, and we’ll have our lifeguard team and Fire Department personnel monitoring conditions and taking appropriate actions as necessary. We are always concerned about heavy rainfall events, and we’ll be ready if necessary,” said Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush.
Officials in Pine Knoll Shores will be monitoring and change the warning flags on the beach as needed.
Along Topsail Island, the Town of Surf City is monitoring the storm and anticipates increased chance of rain, possibly heave at times, and rough surf conditions.
“Throughout the weekend we will monitor conditions and impacts to make sure public accesses are safe to use. Regardless of weather, the Memorial Day weekend is always a busy time and we hope visitors and residents will be patient with the increased crowds and traffic and be safe as they spend time at the beaches or out boating,” said Surf City Town Manager Larry Bergman.
A Friday afternoon briefing from the National Weather Service indicated the storm had a 90 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone within 48 hours, up from an 80 percent chance as of Wednesday night.
The possibility of a tropical storm comes just days before the June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
On Friday, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its prediction for the 2016 hurricane season.
NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a near-normal season is most likely with a 45 percent chance, there is also a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season.
No storm watches or warnings had been issued by the NWS for the Onslow County area as of late Friday afternoon but a hazardous weather outlook statement has been in place indicating the possibility of rip currents and locally heavy rain.