More rain is in the forecast for far eastern North Carolina as some of the remnant moisture from Hurricane Florence whips back around for a second pass at the already beleaguered region.
Three cyclones have formed in the tropical Atlantic since Friday: Tropical Depression Eleven, Tropical Storm Kirk and Subtropical Storm Leslie. Closer to home, though, a portion of what was once Hurricane Florence is now between the Bahamas and Bermuda — and could affect North Carolina (again) on Wednesday.
The evolution of ex-Florence was complicated, but after the storm elongated and merged with a trough, some of the moisture and spin split off to the south and became a feature of interest as it made a well-predicted big loop back toward the U.S. East Coast.
Forecast models do not suggest that the storm will be strong even if it does form, but the American and European models agree that it will probably bring unwanted rain to eastern North Carolina on Tuesday and into Wednesday as it brushes the coast and heads north. An inch or less would be insignificant, but anything more could exacerbate the already catastrophic flooding that continues to inundate the Carolinas.
On the low end of the forecast spectrum, less than half an inch of rain could fall in eastern North Carolina through Wednesday night. On the high end, two or even three inches of rain could fall in places such as New Bern, Morehead City and the Outer Banks, which were swamped by Hurricane Florence’s destructive storm surge.
The National Weather Service was forecasting about one inch of rain for the region through midweek as of Monday morning.
Because it’s not exactly Florence’s remnants, the storm would earn a new name should it strengthen. On Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center was giving the area of thunderstorms a 40 percent chance of becoming at least a tropical depression this week.
Like Isaac before it, Tropical Depression Eleven fizzled out in the deep tropics just east of the Lesser Antilles. On Saturday, Kirk became the southernmost named storm since Bret in June last year, but it is also struggling in 2018′s storm-killing environment and is a disorganized tropical depression now. However, at its rapid forward speed, it will reach the Lesser Antilles on Thursday night, bringing at least gusty winds and rain. It could possibly regain tropical-storm status by then, too.
On Sunday morning, Subtropical Storm Leslie formed in the same neighborhood where Debby, Ernesto and Joyce did. In a season dominated by unfavorable conditions in the tropics, Leslie became this year’s sixth subtropical cyclone — meaning that half of the named storms were subtropical at some point. It is 1,300 miles west of the Azores and drifting around at 6 mph.
So far, the Atlantic hurricane season activity is 106 percent of average for the date and is likely to slip behind average by the end of the month. While there have been 12 named storms, they have generally been weak and short-lived. Florence is the obvious exception — the storm accounts for 45 percent of the season’s hurricane activity so far.
Of course, there are still 9.5 weeks left in the season and we cannot let our guard down just yet. But it is interesting that Isaac, TD11 and Kirk all dissipated or weakened in the deep tropics in September (usually the sweet spot for action) and that there have been no hurricanes in the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico so far this season.
The next two names on the Atlantic hurricane list are Michael and Nadine.