Fox News Weather Center

Budding Tropical System May Lash Southeast US Coast With Wind, Rough Surf

Wind, seas and surf will build in advance of what could potentially become the first tropical system of 2015 along the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States this week.

A lingering area of showers and thunderstorms east of Florida is forecast to develop tropical traits as the week progresses.

According to Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, "The storm can take on some tropical characteristics as it drifts northward due to sufficiently warm waters and the potential for diminishing winds aloft."

The system has a chance to become the first named tropical system of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, even though it may not be fully tropical but rather a subtropical storm.

A subtropical or hybrid storm has some warm, tropical features and some cool, non-tropical features.

"Regardless of tropical development or not, winds and seas will gradually build along the coast from northeastern Florida to southeastern Virginia, well ahead of the center of the system as the week progresses," Kottlowski said.

The most significant impact from the budding system will be late in the week, when rain and thunderstorms can occur along with gusty winds, rough surf and beach erosion.

According to Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, "For people along the Southeastern coast, this storm's weather conditions will be similar to a developing nor'easter."

Factoring in dry air limiting the intensity of the storm, winds could reach an average speed of 20-30 mph with gusts frequenting 40 mph along the Carolina and southeastern Virginia coasts.

Building seas will be a concern for boaters and bathers. Cruise, fishing and shipping interests from the southeastern U.S. to the Bahamas will want to monitor the progress of the storm. Strong rip currents for bathers and sudden squalls for fishing and small craft are likely to be a concern.

The center of the storm could wander very close to the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas at the end of the week. However, even if the center were to remain offshore, downpours, gusty winds and seas will reach the coast due to the forecast broadening structure of the storm.

Weak steering winds could cause the system to meander to the coast or perhaps hover just offshore.

"If the storm stalls near or over land, enough rain could fall to cause flooding," Kottlowski said.

A small number of tornadoes could be spawned if the system were to make landfall.

Forecasting the intensity of preseason storms can be especially challenging due to marginal water temperatures and a typically more hostile atmospheric environment, when compared to mid-season storms.

In this case, we have a system forecast to develop in a near-summerlike weather pattern, which could give the storm a bit of an edge for development as well as some strengthening, Kottlowski said.

At least there will not be the added tidal effect from the moon late this week.

"The full moon was this past Sunday and typically the greatest effect from the moon on tides is within a couple of days of the full and new moon," Kottlowski said.

The new moon is not until May 18.