Area of Potential Tropical Feature Concern Forming Off Southeast Coast

Posted: May 25, 2023 12:12 pm

Forecasters are closely monitoring an area of potential tropical development off the southeastern coast of the U.S. Even if this disturbance does not take on tropical characteristics, it is likely to usher in a soggy Memorial Day weekend for this corner of the country.

Here is the latest on this potential tropical or subtropical system and how it may impact your three-day weekend plans.

Necessary Ingredients for Tropical Development in Place

The weekend is setting up to be quite a mess for a large part of the coastal mid-Atlantic and beyond. Beach goers need to be aware of the potential of heavy rain, severe storms, and dangerous surf conditions from northern Florida up into the Carolinas.

While the Southeast experienced a stormy start to the week, drier weather has been in the picture to close out the work week. This is all about to change again as a large area of low pressure is forming northeast of the Florida peninsula.

It is this broad zone of low pressure that could fuel the development of a tropical feature. In order for this system to take on an official tropical feature designation, it would need to produce maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher as well as a well-defined area of low pressure recognizable by satellite.

The bulk of the rain and storms will remain across Florida and off the southeastern coast on Thursday and Friday. Ocean water temperatures in this part of the Atlantic Ocean are currently hovering in the low 80s, readings conducive for more tropical development as the low is positioned over the Gulf Stream.

This is the same area that forecasters have been watching since last week, warning that it could be the first named tropical storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. Should a named storm develop, it would go by the name of Arlene.

The biggest question mark as of early Thursday is whether the disturbance will remain over the warm water long enough to pick up steam. There is the chance that it could move over land in the Southeast fast enough that it does not get the opportunity to develop tropical characteristics.

The system will have the best chance to develop into a named storm if it spins off shore for a longer period of time, drawing on the warm ocean waters as fuel.

Potential Negative Impacts of Disturbance

Even if this disturbance does not strengthen into a full-blown tropical event, it is forecast to develop a center of circulation. This will boost wind speeds and trigger more rain and stormy conditions around the area where the circulation comes onshore.

This impact zone is predicted to be in an area stretching from the Georgia coastline up through the Carolinas.

Potential impacts of this storm include flash flooding, sporadic power outages, and waterspouts. Coastal flooding and minor beach erosion are also a possibility as the storm comes on shore. This could put a damper on many outdoor plans for the Memorial Day weekend.

As far as timing, Saturday is expected to be the day with the most inclement conditions. This is the most likely time frame for the center of the circulation to move inland.

The rain and stormy conditions will move farther inland on Sunday, bringing interior portions of the Carolinas, Georgia, and southern parts of Virginia into the fold. Temperatures will also be unseasonably cool thanks to the persistent cloud cover.

Predictions for the Northeast

At this time, the Northeast is expecting mostly dry conditions for the start of the long weekend. However, there is the chance that the rain from this system could creep up into the region by late Sunday or Monday.

Even if the rain holds off in the Northeast, you can expect rough surf conditions and potentially dangerous rip currents as far north as Long Island, New York. Be sure to heed any warnings if you are headed out to the beach for the holiday.

The best day of the long weekend to catch some sun at the beach in the Southeast will likely be on Memorial Day itself.

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