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Chris churns offshore

Local and state officials are keeping a close eye on a tropical system that is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane.

As of Monday afternoon, Tropical Storm Chris was sitting stationary off the southeastern coast of North Carolina, churning up the coast as far north as Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The tropical system is already responsible for one death. According to the Coastland Times, a man drowned Saturday while swimming in the ocean near the Third Street Beach Access in Kill Devil Hills. The victim, who has yet to be identified, was spotted floating in the waves shortly after 12 noon. He was brought to shore by the efforts of the Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue Division, Fire Department, and Dare County EMS. Life-saving measures were performed, and he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

At that time, red flags were posted along the Outer Banks, warning swimmers not to enter the ocean due to six foot swells and dangerous rip currents.

“We are saddened that rough waters have tragically claimed a life, and I urge people along our coast to be cautious, especially if they plan to be in and on the water,” said Governor Roy Cooper on Monday. “While we do not expect major impacts from this storm, we will continue to watch it closely.”

Beachgoers are reminded to heed warning flags and signs and obey the instructions of lifeguards and local officials.

As of noon Monday, Tropical Storm Chris was located approximately 200 miles south southeast of Cape Hatteras with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. Chris is forecast to meander off the coast of North Carolina for another day before beginning to accelerate northeast into the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday and Thursday. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center. Additional strengthening is forecast, and Chris was expected to become a hurricane last night or early Tuesday morning.

Air Force and NOAA reconnaissance fixes along with weather satellite observations on Monday indicate that Chris was moving very little. Ocean currents are expected to remain weak for the next 24 hours or so, resulting in continued slow movement of the storm. By 36 hours, however, a shortwave trough is forecast to dig southeastward out of Canada and into the northeastern U.S. and mid-Atlantic states, which should help to eject the cyclone northeastward. By 48 hours and beyond, the shortwave trough will help to amplify a deep-layer trough near the U.S. east coast, causing Chris to accelerate northeastward toward the Atlantic Canada region.

The primary threat to the North Carolina coast is the swells generated by the tropical storm force winds. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Minor beach erosion and ocean overwash is also possible.

“Local officials and the Department of Transportation are prepared to deal with any minor flooding or overwash issues that might arise,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.

A Small Craft Advisory is in effect along our coast, to include the waters of the Albemarle Sound. That advisory means wind speeds of 25 to 33 knots and/or seas of 5 feet or greater over the coastal waters are expected to produce hazardous boating conditions to small craft. Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels, should avoid navigating in these conditions.

Residents and vacationers along the coast should be aware and keep a close eye on the weather forecast. More information on tropical weather and preparedness can be found in the ReadyNC mobile app and online at ReadyNC.org.

The forecast for the Roanoke-Chowan area calls for sunny skies and a high of 90 on Tuesday.

There is a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 pm on Wednesday, where the high is again expected to top out at 90 degrees.

The remainder of the week looks mostly sunny with highs on Thursday through Saturday in the mid to upper 80’s.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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