Alex skirts NC coast

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 2, 2004

The first Atlantic storm of the season kept North Carolina residents on edge for most of the day on Monday.

Tropical Storm Alex, packing winds of 60 mph, formed over the weekend off the Georgia coast. It slowly made its way up the South Carolina coast on Monday, developing a 20-mile wide circular eye later in the day.

Officials with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla, sent several aircraft into the storm on Monday. There, weather data revealed the storm was drifting slowly towards the north, northwest, making a beeline towards Cape Hatteras. However, an upper level low pressure system moving in from the Ohio Valley was expected to steer Alex out to sea as it barely skirts the North Carolina coast. If that occurs, the strongest winds associated with the storm will remain offshore.

The projected path of the storm takes it off the Virginia Capes later in the day on Tuesday or by early on Wednesday. National Weather Service officials however warn that only a slight jaunt from Alex’s projected northeastern trek could bring it over land sometimes today. Hence, they remain firm in issuing a Tropical Storm warning to the North Carolina/Virginia line.

If Alex stays on its current trek, the storm was pass over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, paving the way for additional development, possibly pushing the winds to hurricane force (over 70 mph). Southwesterly sheer is expected over the next 24 hours, eventually making the system extratropical in nature.

Locally, Roanoke-Chowan area residents can expect rain, heavy at times, and thunderstorms as Alex continues to make its way up the ‘Carolina coast. Please use extreme caution on area roads as flash flooding is expected. Rainfall on Monday was upwards to 2 inches locally.

Those venturing to the coast are warned of an increasing threat of rip currents.