An advisory issued by the National Weather Service at noon on Thursday indicates the Cape Fear area will likely see some effects of Hurricane Sandy as it passes by the Carolina coast on Saturday night.
Hurricane Sandy, which formed in the Gulf earlier this week, will move north to the Carolinas coast by this weekend. The storm will lose tropical characteristics as it moves north and will increase in size, but it is forecast to weaken.
The closest approach of the storm’s center from Cape Fear will be 255 nautical miles to the east-southeast Saturday night. However, the wind field will increase as it moves by the area. Gusty winds, possible at tropical storm force along the coast, and heavy rainfall will likely affect Brunswick County if Hurricane Sandy stays on its projected path.
As a result, the area will be affected by the outer portions of the storm as it passes offshore. Most of the impacts will be felt along the immediate coast, but the more significant aspects of this storm will remain over marine areas.
Northerly winds will increase during Saturday with 20-30 mph sustained winds and gusts to 40 mph in most coastal locations. Depending on how large the storm expands as it moves northward, winds could increase to 30 to 35 mph with gusts to 50 mph across immediate coastal portions of southeast North Carolina on Saturday.
Since the area will be on the west side of the storm, any surge will be minimal. At this time, minor ocean overwash can be expected during times of high tide in those areas typically susceptible to coastal flooding.
An isolated tornado is possible, though the probability is very low. However, damaging straight-line winds from any strong squalls that move onshore could become an issue.
The area is expected to receive 1 to 3 inches of rainfall, with the highest amounts across the coastal Cape Fear region. Isolated flooding is possible, but favorable ground and drainage conditions should prevent any widespread flooding.
Strong rip currents are likely through the weekend as large swells create favorable wave setup that support rip current formation.
Given the increasing wind field, residents are advised to closely monitor the progress of this storm, and residents along the coast should take precautionary actions to secure any loose objects around the yard (lawn furniture, garbage cans).
A turn to the north-northwest is expected tonight, and then a turn to the northeast Saturday will keep the center of the storm off the Carolinas coast.