If Tropical Storm Arthur stays on its current track, the Atlantic hurricane season’s first named storm will likely be mostly a rain event for the Albemarle region Thursday and Friday.
Even so, area officials are closely monitoring the storm and advising residents to take precautions just in case Arthur takes a different turn.
“I’d like to tell you it’s going to be just an inconvenience, but it’s too early to tell,” Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management Coordinator Christy Saunders said. “All we can do right at this point is just monitor it and be prepared.”
As of Tuesday evening, Arthur was about 80 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, moving about 5 mph with maximum sustained winds about 40 mph. Forecasts have the slow-moving storm gaining strength as it moves northeast, becoming either a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane just off the North Carolina coast early Thursday evening or early Friday morning.
As of 6:25 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service said the main impact from Arthur in Albemarle area counties will be heavy rainfall late Thursday night and early Friday morning. Winds could gust up to 40 mph. Some flooding is possible and rip currents are likely.
Currituck County Emergency Management Director Mary Beth Newns said she participated in a conference phone call Tuesday with state officials and experts at the weather service. Newns said forecasters are saying Arthur will brush against Ocracoke before moving out into the Atlantic.
That close shave is expected to bring strong winds, high waves, and anywhere from one to three inches of rain to the Currituck Outer Banks, Newns said. Streets in beach areas that are prone to flooding will likely flood, but conditions after then “should clear out,” she said.
Residents and vacationers should stay away from the ocean while the storm is passing over the Outer Banks, she said. However, no evacuations have been called for.
“I think we’re going to be fine. I think it’s just going to be a nasty couple of hours of that wind blowing,” she said.
Officials in Dare County were taking a similar tack. They said late Tuesday that the current forecast had Arthur reaching the Outer Banks by early Friday.
“Storm force winds are predicted for most of the county with the potential for minimal hurricane force winds affecting Hatteras Island,” the county said in a press release, adding that further updates would follow this morning.
In preparation for Arthur, N.C. Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday they are staging front-end loaders, motor graders and bulldozers along N.C. Highway 12 at Ocracoke, Rodanthe and Pea Island, south of the Bonner Bridge, in both Dare and Hyde counties.
Currently all ferries are running according to schedule, but that could change as the storm gets closer to the Carolina coast, DOT officials said. Ferries cannot safely operate once winds reach approximately 30 to 35 mph.
Larger ferries are already in use nearby at the Hatteras-Ocracoke route in case an emergency ferry route is needed once the storm passes, the officials said.
In Elizabeth City, City Manager Rich Olson said city officials are following normal procedures in response to approaching tropical storms. Olson said he doesn’t expect much rain from the storm in Elizabeth City.
“The wind may be a little stiff, but I’ll be kind of surprised if it (Arthur) does hit hurricane strength, just because the water out in the ocean is not that warm yet to feed that type of storm up off North Carolina,” he said.
A lot of the concern in Elizabeth City right now is over whether the city will be able to stage a Fourth of July fireworks show on Friday.
Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Parks and Recreation Director Bobbi White and Saunders said it’s too soon to plan around Arthur. Storms can change course, speed up or stall out, Saunders said.
She and White said they’ll continue monitoring the storm and make an announcement Thursday whether Friday’s festivities will be postponed. White said Parks and Recreation would likely try to hold its Independence Day celebration over the weekend, weather permitting.
Similarly, Newns said she and other Currituck officials will likely decide today whether a Fourth of July fireworks show, planned for Friday at Corolla, should be postponed until Saturday.
Greater Albemarle Area Red Cross Executive Director Carolyn Self said the agency’s volunteers in the region have been put on standby. Self described the situation as “a wait and see game,” but she said the agency is going to be ready.
“If something happens, we’ll be there,” she said.
For advice on how to prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies, go to www.pasquotankcamdenem.com.