Meandering off the coast of the Carolinas, Tropical Storm Chris is on the verge of becoming 2018’s second hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean.
While increasing in strength, the storm is forecast to remain far enough offshore that its wind and rain avoid the Mid-Atlantic coastline. But it will generate dangerous rip currents at area beaches, from Ocean City to Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Packing winds of 60 mph, Chris is positioned 215 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. Gradual intensification is forecast over the next one to two days, and the National Hurricane Center predicts Chris will reach hurricane strength by 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The storm is forecast to remain more or less stationary for 24 hours before zipping off to the Northeast on Tuesday into Wednesday. By Friday, it is forecast to be centered just off the coast of Newfoundland. As it encounters cooler waters, it is predicted to begin weakening Wednesday into Thursday.
Until the atmosphere’s steering flow carries Chris away, big waves and dangerous surf are the greatest concern in nearby coastal zones.
“Swells generated by Chris are expected to increase and affect portions of the coasts of North Carolina and the Mid-Atlantic states during the next few days,” the National Hurricane Center said. “These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
The National Weather Service is warning about rip current risks from the Delaware-Maryland border southward to the central South Carolina coast.
If Chris does become a hurricane, it would be the second this month — a relatively rare occurrence in July. In fact, it has been 10 years since there were two hurricanes in July in the Atlantic. On average, the third named storm forms Aug. 14, and the second hurricane forms Aug. 29, so Chris is keeping the season’s activity well above par.
Aside from Chris, the only other prospect for tropical storm activity in the Atlantic is from the weather disturbance, which was, at one point, Hurricane Beryl. The Hurricane Center declared Beryl as simply a remnant disturbance on Sunday since it weakened below tropical-depression strength. However, some models are indicating the remnants of Beryl will encounter a more favorable environment by midweek near the Bahamas and that it could regenerate.
The Hurricane Center says ex-Beryl has a 40 percent chance to become a tropical depression or storm again over the next five days. In the meantime, it is producing strong thunderstorms and downpours over the northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.