Tropical system not expected to make landfall

A tropical depression or weak tropical storm is expected to approach North Carolina on Tuesday but is not expected to cause major problems in Craven County, forecasters say.

Tropical Depression No. 8, which formed 300 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras on Sunday, was headed west-northwest toward the North Carolina coast with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. The storm is expected to stay offshore through Wednesday before heading northeast back out to sea, according to the National Hurricane Center.

However, the depression is expected to affect Eastern North Carolina with heavy rain, rip currents through Wednesday along the coast and gusty winds, according to the forecast.

Rainfall could total 1 to 3 inches along the coast with higher amounts up to 5 inches in some isolated areas with potentially minor flooding through Tuesday night, according to the forecast.

The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm watch for Carteret County, Hyde and Dare counties, and from Cape Lookout to the Oregon Inlet along the Outer Banks, including adjacent coastal waters, where the strongest winds, 30 to 45 mph with gusts of 55 mph are expected.

Shane Kearns, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Newport, said if the depression strengthens to a tropical storm, it would have little effect on the area.

“It should affect the community minimally, maybe some gusty winds, 15 to 20 mph,” Kearns said. “It will mostly affect the Outer Banks. But there should be heavy rain and thunderstorms in New Bern, maybe an inch or two of rain, nothing really extreme for this area.”

The National Hurricane Center said Monday that wind shear high in the atmosphere and dry air was preventing any strong strengthening of the system.

“Tuesday will mainly be a day for showers and thunderstorms,” Kearns said. “It will not actually make landfall, It will go by about 20 to 30 miles off of the Outer Banks, close to Cape Hatteras and just north of there.”

If the tropical depression becomes a storm, it may be named Hermine. But if another tropical depression now in the Gulf of Mexico strengthens into a storm first, it would get the name Hermine and the East Coast storm would be named Ian, Kearns said.