Arthur heads out to sea after close call with NC coast
Topsail Beach was battered by rain and rough surf as Tropical Storm Arthur churned closer to the shoreline on May 17.
Arthur, the first named tropical system of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, passed very close to the North Carolina coast on Monday, two days after developing into a tropical depression about 125 miles off Melbourne, Florida.
After lashing the Outer Banks, Arthur continued to meander out to sea and and shed its tropical characteristics on Tuesday.
As of 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, the center of Arthur, now a non-tropical storm, was moving away from North Carolina at a speed of 15 mph, a substantial increase from its plodding forward thrust of 7-8 mph on Sunday. The storm's sustained winds remained around 60 mph, up from 50 at the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. Monday advisory. Earlier Monday, Arthur's center was only a mere 20 miles from the easternmost part of the Outer Banks. As of early Tuesday morning, Arthur's center was about 300 miles from that same point.
The storm unleashed heavy rain and gusty winds across the eastern part of the state while also generating dangerous surf conditions and rip currents on Monday. Wind gusts near 50 mph with waves up to 12.5 feet were reported, according to data provided from a buoy located southeast of Cape Hatteras.
A satellite image of Tropical Storm Arthur making a close approach to the North Carolina coastline on Monday. (AccuWeather)
The peak wind gust in North Carolina from Arthur was 49 mph at Diamond Shoals, located near Cape Hatteras. The highest rainfall amount through 8 a.m. Tuesday was 4.92 inches in Newport, North Carolina.
A tropical storm warning was issued Sunday and remained in effect for parts of the North Carolina coast on Monday including for the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds and Ocracoke Inlet to Duck, North Carolina.
One area in particular forecasters were worried about was Ocracoke Island, which suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Dorian back in September. Storm surge over Ocracoke could bring another threat of flooding and damage, hindering any ongoing recovery efforts for the island.
No major impacts were reported across the Outer Banks from Arthur, according to Island Free Press.
On Sunday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to pay close attention to the first significant tropical threat of the season.
“Everyone in our coastal areas should remain aware and cautious as Arthur brushes our coast on Monday,” said Cooper. “Pay close attention to the forecast, and don’t take chances in dangerous surf.”
Arthur is seen spinning along the coast of North Carolina on Monday May 18, 2020. (Image/CIRA RAMMB)
Rough surf and strong rip currents battered the coastal Carolinas through Monday. Dangerous marine conditions also occurred, with seas building to 8-10 feet, creating treacherous conditions for mariners.
The rating for Arthur on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes will be less than one.
"Rough seas and gusty winds will expand northward to the upper mid-Atlantic coast through Tuesday as the storm drifts eastward and perhaps stalls over the open water," AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff said.
The timing of Arthur coincided with North Carolina's first phase of its reopening strategy amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many areas experiencing the brunt of Arthur's rain and wind, including Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, recently reopened to vacationers following mandatory closures due to the outbreak of the virus. Bars, restaurants and gyms remain closed throughout Dare County, and personal gatherings over 10 people remain prohibited.
The arrival of Arthur continued a trend of preseason development in recent years. In fact, there has been a named storm system before June 1, the official start of hurricane season, every year since 2015.
"The non-tropical version of Arthur could still remain a well-defined storm system into Wednesday, but it should weaken as it passes near or over Bermuda Thursday morning," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
AccuWeather meteorologists say there are currently no other organized tropical system in the Atlantic and any new development is not expected through at least early next week.
Additional reporting by Chaffin Mitchell
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