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Carolinas coast might face July 4 tropical troubles

NOAA
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The red area in this NOAA map shows high storm potential in the next 48 hours.

An area of low pressure drifting off the Florida east coast Monday could turn into a tropical troublemaker for Independence Day along the Carolinas coast.

An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance plane is scheduled to fly into the low pressure area Monday afternoon to determine if a closed circulation has formed. The center of the system is about 140 miles east-northeast of Melbourne, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Most computer models predict the low pressure system will turn into a tropical depression in a few days and then move up the East Coast. The Hurricane Center says there is an 80 percent chance of a tropical depression forming by mid-week.

It would be the first tropical system of the season in the Atlantic and Caribbean basin.

“This system will have no impact on the Charlotte area,” said Scott Krentz, of the National Weather Service office in Greenville-Spartanburg. “It will be too far to the east.”

But for the many thousands of people flocking to Carolinas coastal resorts for the Fourth of July holiday, it could be a different story.

Most forecasters predict the tropical system would hug the coast from the middle of the week into the early part of the weekend before moving out to sea. In such a scenario, the heaviest rain and strongest winds would remain off the coast.

But in a statement issued Monday morning, the National Weather Service office in Wilmington noted, “What does seem more for sure is some late-week rough surf and dangerous rip currents.”

For now, the Weather Service is predicting a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Thursday and Friday, with rainfall chances decreasing later in the holiday weekend.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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