Now with winds of 90 mph, and a forecast for them to possibly reach 105 mph before landfall, Hurricane Arthur poses a significant threat to life and property for residents along the outer banks of North Carolina. Mandatory evacuations went into effect this morning for most coastal locations and preparations were being rushed to completion in neighboring communities, such as Morehead City and Wilmington where the storm will first hit this evening. The winds from Arthur will have the greatest impact near and east of where the center of circulation tracks, which at this time is expected to be near or just offshore. Storm surge flooding in most areas will average 2 to 4 feet, but could be locally higher should the storm wobble west of its present track. Due to the fast movement of Arthur, its forecast track to brush by the coast, and its relatively small size, inland flooding will likely not be widespread with this system. However, any tropical storm or hurricane (even weak ones) can cause localized flooding in a short period of time.
Arthur became the first hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season as of the 5am advisory from the National Hurricane Center this morning. At the time, maximum sustained winds were reported to be around 75 mph. Since then, thunderstorms have wrapped closer to the center, it has developed an eye wall, and Arthur has strengthened considerably. Hurricane Hunters even measured wind gusts near 100 mph in the eastern quadrant of the storm earlier today. Arthur is a very small, compact storm, with hurricane force winds only extending 25 miles from the center.
Landfall is expected tonight near or possibly just east of Morehead City, North Carolina. Prior to landfall, the storm will come very close to shore near Wilmington this afternoon, then parallel the coast for several hours through the state’s outer banks. Thereafter, Arthur will begin the process of becoming “extra-tropical”, interacting with an approaching front and delivering heavy rain and possible coastal flooding to parts of New England on Friday and Saturday.
Even though Arthur is no longer a direct threat to Florida (and maybe never was), the rip current risk along the First Coast beaches will remain moderate to high thanks to large ocean swells and an off-shore wind. Elsewhere across the state, conditions will return to normal today with only typical afternoon scattered showers or thunderstorms. Rain chances will diminish some on Friday across the northern third of the state, but remain elevated elsewhere through Saturday.