Tropical Storm Chris developed about 150 miles off the coast of the Outer Banks of North Carolina Sunday morning. This storm will gradually strengthen as its thunderstorms become more organized near the center while it sits over warm waters. Chris will meander over the same area through Tuesday due to the blocking pattern in place. With high pressure aloft, that won’t allow Chris to move much.
By Tuesday, Chris is expected to become the second hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season while beginning to track out to sea. This sudden movement is thanks to an upper-level trough moving across the Northeast. This time it will be strong enough to give Chris a nudge. Unfortunately, Chris may make a direct landfall on Nova Scotia and/or Newfoundland during the latter half of the week as a hurricane or strong tropical storm.
We expect Chris to strengthen partly because of how warm the Gulf Stream is. The water temperatures in this part of the Atlantic are above average and actually record-breaking in one case. At Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina — not too far from where Chris is located — the current water temperature is at 89 degrees, the warmest ever recorded by this station since measurements began in 2004.
— NWS Wilmington NC (@NWSWilmingtonNC) July 6, 2018
Now while Chris will not be a terribly impactful storm, it will still cause some issues, most of which will be indirect. That includes the risk for rip currents and rough surf. Waves may approach 10 feet along some of the beaches during the first half of this week from North Carolina up through southeastern New England. The best way to stay safe is to just avoid going into the water.
The second risk associated with Chris are rip currents. This storm has already turned deadly after a man drowned while swimming off the coast of the Outer Banks on Saturday. The flow of winds onshore will keep that risk moderate to perhaps high at times along the Carolinas, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the New England coasts through as late as Wednesday. Again, just stay out of the water or if you are so inclined to swim, do it near a lifeguard.
Tropical-storm-force winds will remain offshore but the National Hurricane Center notes, “Winds to gale force not directly associated with Chris are expected along the North Carolina coast and over Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds during the next day or so.” Occasional rain showers will also be possible across coastal sections from South Carolina through the DelMarVa.
This is a reminder that even though it is only the start of hurricane season and that despite a below-average season forecast, storms can still form and impact the US.