WILMINGTON — The National Weather Service in Wilmington is calling for severe weather across the Cape Fear region this afternoon, as atmospheric instability and wind shear combine with a strong front creating a risk for severe thunderstorms, and even a potential threat for tornadoes.
After Hurricane Harvey brought devastation to parts of Texas this past week, many across the southeast are keeping a vigilant eye on the tropics. But today’s threat comes from inland, as some “unsettled weather” moves into the area later this afternoon and into the overnight hours.
According to Steve Pfaff, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, this type of weather has a tendency to have storms that create “significant updraft,” causing thunderstorms to become severe.
“The full gambit is possible today, we could have some tornadoes in the Carolinas, there could be wind gusts over 60 mph just from the thunderstorms themselves,” Pfaff said. “The primary threat is going to be these damaging wind gusts, and we certainly couldn’t rule out a tornado.”
— NWS Wilmington NC (@NWSWilmingtonNC) September 1, 2017
Pfaff said that this same unsettled weather caused the NWS to issue tornado warnings in neighboring Horry and Marion counties in South Carolina yesterday, and are expecting similar conditions in the Cape Fear region today.
“We had reports of some trees down and power outages down there yesterday,” he said. “That’s what we anticipate here today, a continuation of that unsettled weather, just spreading into the Cape Fear area instead of just South Carolina.”
So, how will this weather system effect residents and vacationers over the long weekend?
Fortunately, after this “unsettled” weather pattern moves through, the NWS anticipates the area drying out over the weekend, allowing folks to enjoy their long weekend.
“There certainly is a chance of storms spreading into Saturday, but the latest info we looked at has the drying out maybe for the second half of the weekend,” Pfaff said. “So, it could be a rough start, but we’re thinking optimistically here for the last two days.”
Although not an imminent threat, Pfaff said that the NWS is keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irma, which is currently heading east across the Atlantic Ocean. The storm is steadily intensifying, and predicted to be a major hurricane by the time it makes landfall.
“We have Irma churning out into the Atlantic, and we’re already getting a lot of questions and concerns about that storm,” he said. “Of course, what we recommend, is that certainly everyone on the Southeast Coast could be at risk from the storm, but, we don’t want to go full fledged preparation mode just yet, until we feel more confident.”
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) August 31, 2017
Pfaff cautions against people spreading “misinformation” on social media, and recommends residents pay attention to local media outlets, as well as government agencies like the NWS and the National Hurricane Center.
“The projections that far out in time, the models skill is minimal,” he said. “So, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on, but don’t get into a panic over it until we get a better feel. Please don’t perpetuate any bad information. Don’t be part of the problem, be careful with where you get your information.”