STORM UPDATE (as of 5 pm ET)
And just like that…Tropical Cyclone Sixteen has officially become Tropical Storm Ophelia with sustained winds of 70 mph. The storm’s center is expected to land in North Carolina tonight and then move across eastern North Carolina, southeastern Virginia, and the Delmarva Peninsula on Saturday and Sunday, with heavy rainfalls up to 5 inches and dangerous storm surges up to 6 feet.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), a hurricane watch is in effect for the coast of North Carolina from north of Surf City to Ocracoke Inlet. Ophelia will become a Category 1 hurricane if sustained winds exceed 74 mph.
On Thursday, September 22, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a tropical storm warning spanning from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Fenwick Island, Delaware. This advisory includes Albemarle and Pamlico sounds in North Carolina, the Tidal Potomac River up to Cobb Island, Maryland, and stretches of the Chesapeake Bay.
Expected Impacts from Potential Tropical Cyclone Sixteen:
- Rainfall Projections: North Carolina and Virginia should brace for substantial rainfall, ranging between 3 to 5 inches by Saturday, with 7 inches possibly falling in some areas. For the broader Mid-Atlantic region, including parts of southern New England, forecasts predict 2-4 inches from late Friday through Sunday, heightening the risk of isolated urban and minor stream flooding.
- Storm Surge Concerns: Areas from Surf City, North Carolina to Chincoteague, Virginia, are on alert for potential flooding between 2-4 feet, particularly during peak high tide. The Outer Banks is also on watch, with projected floodwaters rising between 3-5 feet. The Chesapeake Bay area is anticipated to receive 2-4 feet in its lower regions and 1-3 feet further up the bay.
- Tornado Threats: As the system approaches, the NHC has indicated the possibility of tornadoes cropping up in the Mid-Atlantic states on Friday and Saturday.
- Storm Trajectory: Currently labeled “Potential Tropical Cyclone Sixteen,” its northward motion was 7 mph on Thursday evening. However, a course change towards the northwest is forecasted for Friday.
If the system reaches tropical storm strength, it will be named “Ophelia,” making it the 16th named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. But name or not, the NHC emphasizes that the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic coasts are likely to face formidable tropical storm conditions.
Tidal Basin will continue to monitor as the situation evolves. Please visit our Hurricane Resource hub for tips on preparing ahead of a storm. We hope everyone stays safe, and as always, we stand ready to assist affected communities.