WASHINGTON — It wouldn’t be a holiday weekend without a complicated forecast in the D.C. area. And sure enough, a possible tropical storm is moving just to the east of the region for this Labor Day weekend.
First, the good news: As of 5 a.m. Thursday, the track of Hermine has shifted to the east. This will be more favorable for this area, as it will track a little father offshore.
The bad news is, although the shift to the east is significant, the track has not been consistent over the last 24 hours, so it can change several more times — this is a fluid situation.
Tropical Storm Hermine (her-MEEN) is about 275 miles southwest of Tampa, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico. It has not made landfall as of 8 a.m. Thursday, but it’s expected to make landfall as a small Category 1 hurricane on north Florida coast, south of Tallahassee, during the first part of the overnight. It has maintained intensity overnight and currently has winds at 60-70 mph, moving northeast at 12 mph. Anywhere from 2 to 12 inches of rain has fallen across portions of Florida, and they are expecting more as this heads toward the coast.
Wednesday afternoon’s forecast tracks had the storm shifted west toward the D.C. region and hugging the East Coast. That track has changed, shifting back east with the latest updates as of Thursday morning. These shifts will continue as the storm approaches and the track comes a little more in focus. It’ll take one or two more updates of the models before we can have some more confidence on Hermine’s impact in the WTOP listening area. Even minor shifts in the track could have considerable differences in the weekend’s weather.
Tropical Storm Hermine will continue to weaken after it makes landfall overnight and travels across the Florida landmass and through the Southeastern states. This will be another piece of good news, because it will not have the warm water to help strengthen it before it reaches the mid-Atlantic. Eventually, on the current track, Hermine will slide off the coast and into the Atlantic around the Carolina coast. At that point, it looks to become post-tropical, which could prove a little more problematic due to the vicinity of some heavy rain bands — another thing to monitor once it happens.
Either way, the current update looks for some heavy rain south and east of D.C. The biggest threats and greatest impact will still be east of Interstate 95 and south toward the Virginia Beach and North Carolina beaches, as well as the Maryland and Delaware beaches.
Beach rain forecast
If you’re headed to Virginia Beach or the North Carolina beaches this weekend, you may want to rethink your plans: The forecast has pretty consistently shown that as Hermine tracks across North Carolina, it will drop a lot of rain, especially as the storm becomes post-tropical. The shoreline in North Carolina could see 6 to 10 inches of rainfall. Areas in Virginia Beach could see slightly less — up to 3 inches.
We will certainly have to watch for flooding along the coast. The New Moon phase begins on Friday, so high tides could be a serious problem to the shoreline, chipping away at the beach and increasing erosion.
Either way, if you are headed to the beach this weekend, plan to experience dangerous rip currents, large swells, rough surf and strong winds.
Although Friday will be very pleasant, starting with sunshine, it is only a matter of time before clouds start to spread from the south to the north over the WTOP area. Expect an increase in cloud cover on Friday afternoon and evening; however, we will remain dry on Friday.
By Saturday, skies will be mostly cloudy, with rain moving in from the south by midmorning into the early afternoon, mostly along I-95 and the east. Heavy rain and winds are possible on Saturday night, with some showers around for Sunday — especially for area beaches.
I am not completely convinced that we will dry out on Sunday, because Hermine will still churn off the coast as it interacts with a strong and cool area of high pressure sprawled out north through the St. Lawrence Valley. Look for gusty winds in the inland areas and possibly more coastal flooding.
Again, the forecast becomes clearer once the storm — and the holiday weekend — get closer, so keep an eye on us and we’ll let you know the latest updates as soon as we can!
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