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Tropical Storm Ophelia Closes In on the East Coast

Tropical Storm Ophelia Closes In on the East Coast

Tropical Storm Ophelia is forecast to strengthen before making landfall in North Carolina Saturday.

(CNN) — Tropical Storm Ophelia has formed off the Southeast coast and is forecast to strengthen slightly before making landfall in North Carolina Saturday.

The storm will then begin a 3-day trek up the East Coast through the weekend and deliver an expanse of wind and heavy rain most significantly along the coast, but that could reach as far north as southern New England.


Ophelia’s 60-mph winds and stronger gusts could knock out power in some places, especially along the coast. Rain and wind was already lashing the North Carolina coast and the storm’s rain had started falling in southeastern Virginia.

Those conditions will worsen there and affect more areas as the storm approaches the coast, so tropical storm warnings stretch from just south of Charleston, South Carolina, to around the Maryland-Delaware state line. Storm surge watches and warnings stretch from Surf City, North Carolina, to the Chesapeake Bay.

A soggy, windy weekend is on tap for a much of the East Coast because rain stretches hundreds of miles from the storm’s center.

Coastal areas will bear the brunt of the heaviest rains and wind, though inland residents will get storms, too. A few tornadoes are also possible in parts of the coastal mid-Atlantic.

The greatest risk of heavy rain and flooding Friday into Saturday was expected in eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia, where 3 to 5 inches are forecast. Areas where strong bands of thunderstorms develop could see as much as 7 inches of rain.

A broad stretch of the mid-Atlantic into southern New England could see 2 to 4 inches of rainfall from late Friday through the weekend.

Areas along the coast could also see hazardous storm surge and coastal flooding, strong rip currents and rough surf. One to 5 feet of surge is possible in some areas, particularly in inlets and rivers from around Surf City, North Carolina, to Manasquan Inlet on the New Jersey shore.

The highest risk of storm surge flooding will coincide with Saturday high tides, particularly in a coastal area from New Jersey to the Virginia Tidewater.

More than two dozen flood gauges across the area were forecast to hit moderate or major flood levels Saturday, which means homes and businesses closest to the coast could flood and roads could become impassable.

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