UPDATE: A little after 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center (a part of the National Weather Service) upgraded Hermine from a tropical storm to a hurricane.
The area is still under a tropical storm warning, as the storm is expected to weaken by the time it reaches the Cape Fear region on Friday night.
UPDATE: As of 11:25 a.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service in Wilmington has elevated the tropical storm watch to a warning as Tropical Storm Hermine makes its way to the area.
A watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the affected area and are usually issued 48 hours ahead of the storm. A warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected in a specific area and are usually issued between 36 hours of a storm’s arrival.
As of Thursday morning, the National Weather Service in Wilmington has placed New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties under both a flash flood watch and a tropical storm watch in anticipation of Tropical Storm Hermine’s expected arrival on Friday.
While forecasters initially predicted 5 to ten inches of rain for the area, the rainfall amount has been reduced to 5 to 7 inches as of Thursday morning, according to NWS Wilmington Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steve Pfaff. Flooding from the storm will still be the greatest impact, particularly on Friday night, along with damaging wind gusts that could damage trees and cause power outages.
Tropical Storm Hermine is currently in the Gulf of Mexico and is making its way north-northeast at 12 miles an hour, slower than forecasters originally believed. Its projected track has also moved further back to the east, keeping most of its impact to the coastal rather than inland parts of the Carolinas. Though the threat for tornadoes has lowered slightly, there is still potential for twisters along the coast.
Flashlights ready? Storm is on its way!
Prepare flashlights instead of candles. pic.twitter.com/rBiEeTPJK5
— WilmingtonFD (@WilmingtonFD) September 2, 2016
The waters off North Carolina, from the Cape Fear River all the way to Cape Hatteras, are now on a tropical storm warning as of early Thursday morning. That warning extends up to 100 nautical miles offshore. Rough and dangerous conditions are expected, especially at inlet entrances. The local beaches continue to be at an elevated rip current risk as they have been all week, an alert that will likely continue until Saturday.
The storm has already forced area events set for Friday night, including high school football games and fireworks and live music shows, to be rescheduled to either Thursday or Saturday nights. The next update from the NWS in Wilmington will come Thursday afternoon.