Tropical trio keep weather experts busy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 31, 2004

August has proven as a record-setting month with four tropical systems impacting the Roanoke-Chowan area weather. The bad news is that September is historically the busiest time in the local region for hurricanes/tropical storms.

Thus far, Hurricanes Alex, Bonnie and Charley have found northeastern North Carolina. Fortunately, none reached severe status, but did cause flash flooding due to persistent rainfall.

Yesterday, additional rain fell as the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston trekked northward after making landfall on Sunday near Charleston, S.C. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Hermine, with winds estimated at near 50 mph, formed later on Sunday off the North Carolina coast. It is not expected to have an impact on the local weather as the storm is forecasted to remain offshore, taking basically a northward trek.

However, National Weather Service officials are urging all residents along with southeastern United States to keep a close watch on Hurricane Frances. That storm, packing winds of 125 mph late Monday afternoon, is expected to remain on a westerly course, staying just north of Puerto Rico.

Forecast models vary on the trek of Frances. A ridge of high pressure in the Atlantic Ocean will play a huge factor in the trek of the hurricane. Most forecast models are using this high pressure as a steering mechanism, taking the storm more in a westward direction towards the Florida peninsula. At its current forward speed, that would mean landfall in Florida by early Saturday.

Another scenario shows the high pressure bending Frances, currently a Category 3 hurricane, in a northwest direction. That’s bad news for the coast of the ‘Carolinas. If this does occur, landfall could occur as early as Sunday.

Stay tuned to local weather for more information.

R-C area residents can use the hurricane tracking map (inserted into today’s edition) to plot the course of Frances. The special insert also contains helpful advice of how to survive a hurricane and the best way to protect your property.