Tropical Storm Chris intensified into a hurricane Tuesday afternoon, the second of 2018 in the Atlantic. But the strengthening storm is moving away from the Mid-Atlantic coast on a path out into the open Atlantic, although it may clip Newfoundland along the way.
Packing winds of 85 mph, the storm is centered 205 miles east-southeast of North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras and is headed northeast at 10 mph. It is forecast to further strengthen through Wednesday, with its peak winds climbing to as high as 100 mph, which would make it a Category 2 hurricane. It is expected to begin weakening Thursday as it moves over cooler water.
Its closest approach to Newfoundland is predicted in 48 to 60 hours, between late Thursday and early Friday, when it could graze the island and deliver gusty showers.
In recent days, the storm’s big waves and agitations to the surf have presented its biggest hazard at Mid-Atlantic beaches. A man drowned over the weekend in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., and, according to the Baltimore Sun, lifeguards rescued 141 people in Ocean City on Monday.
As of Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service had issued special alerts for high rip-current risk from Virginia Beach south to near Wilmington, N.C. As Chris moves farther offshore in the days ahead, the surf should return to near normal.
Chris is the second hurricane to form this month — a relatively rare occurrence for 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.
Elsewhere in the tropical Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center is monitoring the remnants of Beryl, which was briefly a hurricane last week. As the remnants drift northward toward the Bahamas over the coming days, the Hurricane Center gives them a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm. In the meantime, they are producing some downpours and gusty winds over Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos.