September 6, 2007

Tropical storm for the Carolinas? Not yet

Forecasters say it could be Friday before an area of stormy weather in the Atlantic Ocean forms a tropical depression or tropical storm.

And if relentless upper-level winds don't relax, the area of disturbed weather -- which computer models predict could threaten the Carolinas later this weekend -- might not form at all.

The National Hurricane Center and other meteorologists have been watching the area for two days, and a hurricane hunter plane was flown into the system Wednesday afternoon. The crew aboard the plane found the showers and storms nearly had formed a tropical depression -- but not quite.

Overnight, the upper-level westerly winds, called shear, continued to prevent the system from organizing.

Lexion Avila of the National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning that "conditions could become more conducive for a subtropical or tropical cyclone to form in the next day or two."

Computer models continue to predict the system will organize, and they forecast its track to approach North Carolina's Outer Banks. But forecasters caution the public not to pay too much attention to those long-range forecasts, as they are prone to major changes.

Along the coast, National Weather Service forecasters at the Wilmington office say they will continue taking a wait-and-see attitude with the system. They are predicting a chance of showers and thunderstorms later this weekend but say that forecast could change drastically.

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