Tropical storm warning issued for US East Coast

Potential storm Ophelia brewing near North Carolina

A satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a storm forming off the south-eastern coast of the US. AP
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A storm off the US East Coast is forecast to bring heavy rainfall and potentially dangerous conditions to North Carolina and other states on Friday before making landfall on Saturday, the National Hurricane Centre has said.

The storm is forming off the coast of the Carolinas with top sustained winds of 85kph, the Associated Press reported. A storm surge watch was in effect, with surges between 1 metre to 1.5 metres forecast for parts of North Carolina, the centre reported.

As of Friday morning, the storm was located about 530km south-east of Charleston, South Carolina, moving north at about 14kph.

Rainfall of 7.6cm to 12.7cm, with localised amounts of up to 17.7cm, was expected across eastern North Carolina and south-east Virginia through Saturday, the centre added.

It is also expected to bring heavy rainfall to the Washington area.

The storm will weaken once it moves inland on Saturday, but it will continue to bring heavy rain, gusty winds and significant coastal flooding, the Weather Channel reported.

Though the system has reached tropical storm strength, it has yet to be given a name and the centre was still referring to it as Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 as of Friday morning.

The hurricane centre defines a potential tropical cyclone as a disturbance posing a threat of tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land within 48 hours.

Bloomberg reported that the centre would probably name it Ophelia.

Meteorologist Maria Torres, a public affairs officer with the Miami-based centre, said people along the Atlantic coast need to watch the storm’s progress, gather supplies and make preparations for its arrival.

“This will bring some tropical storm force winds and storm surge along with the high winds to the East Coast through the weekend, mainly from the south-east to the mid-Atlantic states,” she told AP.

Local emergency management officials warned of heavy rain, high winds and flooding in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Nigel was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone centred about 1,030km north-west of the Azores, with maximum sustained winds of 110kph, though officials in North Carolina said the state might see increased swells from the remnants of the storm.

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