Ophelia washes over the mid-Atlantic and Philippe forms, but no additional threats this week

Ophelia quickly came together Friday, caused widespread coastal flooding from North Carolina through Mid-Atlantic over the weekend

Monday morning satellite showing Tropical Storm Philippe over the central Atlantic. Credit: NOAA.

On Friday afternoon, the non-tropical frontal low designated Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 quickly transitioned into Tropical Storm Ophelia off the southeast U.S. coast and made a run at becoming a hurricane over the warm Gulf Stream before moving inland.

Though the storm peaked just below hurricane strength before making landfall near Morehead City, North Carolina, around daybreak on Saturday, it brought wind gusts to hurricane force (as high as 76 mph near Cape Lookout) to the coast, with a wide stretch of wind reports above 60 mph along North Carolina’s Outer Banks and sound side shoreline.

The calling card of Ophelia was its widespread coastal flooding and pockets of inland flooding through the Mid-Atlantic and northeast U.S. over the weekend. The storm caused moderate to even isolated major flooding along tidal rivers from the Pamlico Sound to the lower Chesapeake Bay to the coast of Delaware. At the immediate coastline, storm surge flooding peaked around 3 feet in the Hampton Roads area during the predawn hours Saturday. Highest rainfall totals were generally around 4 to 6 inches, but isolated totals up to 8 inches fell at locations in Carteret and Onslow Counties in North Carolina closer to where Ophelia came ashore.

The National Hurricane Center issued its final advisory on Ophelia early Sunday morning as the low-pressure system turned frontal once again. The remnant low pressure continues to get strung out today as it drifts back southward near the New Jersey coast, contributing to a dreary weather day from the Mid-Atlantic into the Northeast U.S., with gusty winds continuing at the coast. Conditions should improve tomorrow into Wednesday as the low-pressure system moves farther offshore. Redevelopment isn’t anticipated.

Philippe forms with possible Rina on its heels

Invest 90L was upgraded to Tropical Storm Philippe on Saturday over the open Atlantic midway between Africa and the Caribbean. Philippe has held steady as a mid-range tropical storm since Sunday, kept in check by some modest wind shear.

Philippe’s future track will be guided in part by how strong the storm gets. The American GFS model suggests a stronger storm lifting northward more quickly whereas the European model keeps Philippe weaker and moves it farther west. Regardless, Philippe is expected to stay safely north of the Caribbean islands this week.

Overnight model tracks for Tropical Storm Philippe, with the current NHC forecast noted by the black dots. Forecast models keep the center of Philippe well north of the islands this week. Credit: Tomer Burg/University of Oklahoma.

Behind Philippe, Invest 91L is expected to become a tropical depression or storm (Rina is the next name on the list) later this week. For now models show a track similar to recent storms in this part of the Atlantic, with a turn northward and away from the islands.

Global forecast models for Invest 91L in the eastern Atlantic. Models indicate a path similar to Philippe, keeping the system over open water into next week. Credit: Tomer Burg/University of Oklahoma.

No concerns for now for South Florida

The National Hurricane Center is noting some disorganized storminess over the southern Gulf associated with a broad area of low pressure. Upper-level winds will remain largely unfavorable for development and the system will be moving westward toward the Bay of Campeche and away from Florida.

The remainder of the week looks quiet in the tropics for us back stateside.

About the Author:

Michael Lowry is Local 10's Hurricane Specialist and Storm Surge Expert.