Tropical Storm Colin is staying mostly offshore, but NC severe weather threat lingers

·3 min read

Tropical Storm Colin kept most of its winds and rains offshore as it worked its way up the North Carolina coast on Saturday, but weather authorities warned residents and visitors to be on the lookout for severe weather again Sunday.

The tropical storm, which spun up overnight in the Atlantic Ocean near South Carolina, left behind rough surf and life-threatening riptides, an unwelcome surprise for beachgoers amid the July 4 holiday weekend.

The center of the storm was near the border between the Carolinas at 5 p.m. Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Winds around 40 mph were recorded, though Colin was losing organization as it chugged northeast at 7 mph. The storm was expected to cruise along North Carolina’s beaches before moving into the Atlantic Ocean around midday Sunday and dissipating by Monday morning.

Up to 4 inches of rain were possible in some areas, prompting flood cautions.

“Wind gusts to tropical storm force could lead to some downed trees and isolated power outages. Tornadoes may result in areas of locally enhanced damage. Heavy rain bands could bring a threat of localized flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas,” the National Hurricane Center forecast.

Warnings of rip currents and dangerous surf are in effect from Cape Fear to Duck.

“This storm that formed quickly and rather unexpectedly is a reminder that we all need to be prepared and vigilant during hurricane season,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Saturday. “If you are enjoying the holiday weekend at the coast, keep a close eye on the weather and be sure to follow directions from local officials and lifeguards.”

The Triangle won’t feel much of the storm, though some inland counties in the eastern part of the state may be at risk of flooding.

The strongest winds typically stay on the east side of a tropical system, the NWS explained, shielding the Triangle from the worst of the gusts.

“We do really feel like anything from Tropical Storm Colin will stay east of us,” NWS meteorologist Tom Green told The News & Observer early Saturday.

Visitors gathered to watch the Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration near Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on July 4, 2021. This year, the city of Raleigh will hold fireworks at Dix Park.
Visitors gathered to watch the Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration near Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on July 4, 2021. This year, the city of Raleigh will hold fireworks at Dix Park.

Severe weather threat in NC on July 4 weekend

That doesn’t mean the Triangle is in the clear this weekend.

There’s a threat of severe weather statewide Sunday as thunderstorms organize around a cold front moving into the area. Damaging wind gusts and isolated flash flooding are possible.

The cold front is descending from the Pennsylvania area, forecast to reach North Carolina in the late afternoon or early evening.

“That front will slowly drop through the south throughout the day,” Green said, bringing with it a 50-60% chance of thunderstorms.

There’s a lingering potential for showers on July 4, but by fireworks time, the chance drops to 10-20%.

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