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Strengthening coastal storm to sideswipe US Eastern Seaboard Tuesday, Wednesday

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
April 01, 2019, 11:24:24 AM EDT

A strengthening coastal storm will pass close enough to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States to unload heavy rain, strong winds and pounding seas in some communities Tuesday into Wednesday.

Latest indications are that the storm will not rival one of the most severe nor'easters to have struck the East Coast, but it will pass close enough to bring a 12-hour period of heavy rain and gusty winds to the Southeast on Tuesday before grazing the Northeast coast Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Rough seas with some incidents of minor coastal flooding and beach erosion will also accompany the storm as it races up toward Nova Scotia.

AP Nor'easter waves 2018

A man watches the surf as heavy seas continue to come ashore in Wintrhrop, Mass., Saturday, March 3, 2018, a day after a nor'easter pounded the Atlantic coast. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Storm to strengthen near the Atlantic coast of the southeastern US

In the wake of the cold front that swept the May-like warmth away from the East Coast to end the weekend, a new storm is expected to intensify near the Atlantic beaches of the Southeast on Tuesday.

The storm will be preceded by a band of rain threatening to ruin outdoor plans in northern Florida and neighboring southern Georgia on Monday.

SE Monday March 31

Gusty winds can stir rough surf at many Atlantic beaches of the Southeast this day. Rip currents may threaten anyone brave enough to enter the cool weather at Tybee Island, Georgia, as well as Jacksonville Beach and Daytona Beach, Florida.

Coastal hazards may increase at the beaches of the Carolinas on Tuesday as the storm strengthens. Beach erosion and coastal flooding can occur, especially at high tide, where persistent onshore winds drive the ocean water onto the coast.

Heavy rain and wind gusts to 40 mph may also threaten these coastal areas. Flash flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas, as well as sporadic power outages may occur.

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Some rain will spread back to the Interstate-85 corridor from Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday.

If the storm strengthens closer to the coast, rain can target communities even farther to the west. If the rain reaches the southern Appalachians, it is not out of the question for snow to fall.

"To the south, a few heavy thunderstorms may develop and track across central Florida on Tuesday," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Derek Witt.

SE storm March 31

Most of Northeast to escape worst of the strengthening storm

After the storm impacts the Southeast, AccuWeather meteorologists are favoring a track that allows most of the Northeast to escape the heaviest rain and strongest winds as the storm targets Nova Scotia.

The exceptions may be southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, and Down East Maine, where there can be a 6- to 12-hour period of heavy rain and strong winds later Tuesday night into Wednesday. Winds may gust to around 40 mph on Cape Cod.

"Even in this scenario, it looks likely that the storm can at least bring some rain to coastal areas from coastal New Jersey to eastern Long Island on Tuesday night," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis.

Some rain can also graze and dampen other communities in eastern New England in this scenario later Tuesday night into Wednesday. There can be minor travel delays in Boston and Portland, Maine.

"The storm can also churn up rough seas along the East Coast with beach erosion, especially along Cape Cod," Travis added.

There can also be minor coastal flooding, but the fast pace of the storm should limit such issues to one high-tide cycle. For Cape Cod and the vicinity, the high tide at midday Wednesday is when issues can occur.

The rest of the Northeast would be dry as the storm passes by, allowing anyone with plans to attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., or baseball games to not have to worry about disruptions.

Scenario 1 new March 31

"If the storm were to move farther west, some rain could reach as far inland as Philadelphia and New York City on Tuesday night," Travis said.

The risk for rain and wind will increase across more of New England later Tuesday night into Wednesday if this worst-case scenario pans out, heightening the potential for more significant disruptions to travel and outdoor plans.

The stage may even be set for snow or a wintry mix across the interior of New England if the storm tracks closer to the coast, while more coastal communities can face minor flooding and beach erosion during Wednesday's high tide.

"Communities that typically take on water during coastal storms, such as Scituate, Massachusetts, would face some flooding in this solution pans out," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Seas will rapidly build and become even more dangerous for boaters and large vessels than if the storm remains farther offshore.

Less scenario March 31

Regardless of how the storm tracks near the Eastern Seaboard and its impacts on the mid-Atlantic and New England, another storm may quickly follow on its heels for Friday into Saturday.

This storm can spread soaking rain across a large area of the East with the potential for increasing winds in the Northeast and even snow in the interior of northern New England.

Download the free AccuWeather app for the latest details on how either storm scenario may affect your community.

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