The first named tropical storm of 2020, Arthur, is slowly gaining strength as it targets eastern North Carolina. Arthur is forecast to make its closest pass to the Outer Banks on Monday morning, where a tropical storm warning is in effect.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, the storm was positioned 310 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and headed north-northeast at 9 mph. Packing maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, the National Hurricane Center was predicting they would strengthen to 60 mph by Monday afternoon.

Along the North Carolina Outer Banks, the worst conditions are expected Monday morning, when Arthur’s center may come very close to the shoreline.

“Tropical storm force winds are expected along the coast,” the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, N.C., wrote in a statement. “These winds could lead to some downed trees and widely scattered power outages. Dependent on the track, a few tornadoes are possible as well, which could lead to locally enhanced damage.”

In addition to the high winds, the Weather Service predicts 1 to 3 inches of rainfall, some minor coastal flooding and rough surf.

“Minor inundation from storm surge … is possible for low-lying areas adjacent to the ocean, sounds, and rivers, with overwash of dunes and flooding of properties and roadways possible for locations where dune structures are weak mainly north of Cape Lookout,” the Weather Service wrote.

The water may rise up to two feet above normally dry land.

After clipping the Outer Banks, Arthur is forecast is turn out to sea by Monday evening and, by Tuesday, lose its tropical characteristics over the open Atlantic.

The storm is forecast to stay far enough offshore to just graze Virginia Beach and perhaps the Southern Delmarva with some showers and gusty winds for a short time on Monday. Heavy surf can be expected along much of the Mid-Atlantic coast through midweek.

When Arthur was named Saturday night, it became the sixth tropical or subtropical storm to develop before the June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season in the last six years and the eighth preseason storm to form in the last decade. It followed Alberto in 2012 (May 19), Beryl in 2012 (May 25), Ana in 2015 (May 8), Bonnie in 2016 (May 28), Arlene in 2017 (April 20), Alberto in 2018 (May 26) and Andrea in 2019 (May 20).

Some studies have linked the uptick of preseason storms to warming ocean waters from human-caused climate change.

Arthur is the first storm in what is predicted to be a busier-than-normal hurricane season, according to multiple outlooks that have been issued so far.