WILMINGTON, NC (WECT)- Your First Alert weather team continues to monitor Tropical Storm Chantal.
LATEST ON CHANTAL: Somewhat defying conventional expectations - despite its ragged satellite appearance - Tropical Storm Chantal continues to gain strength in the Eastern Caribbean. Sustained surface winds are estimated to be at 60 mph - but flight level winds with the latest passage of hurricane hunter aircraft indicate wind speeds in excess of 80 mph at 10,000 ft. The Radar presentation from the surface shows definite closed core characteristics - indicative of a sustaining, if not strengthening storm.
TRACK FORECAST: Chantal is moving over open warm waters once again, however shear off of the storms northern periphery will slow development. The storm is expected to move directly over the mountains island of Hispanola early Wednesday morning. If it survives, as most major weather forecast models indicate it will, we will have to pay close attention going into the weekend as it reemerges over the Bahamas as a low grad tropical storm. Some of the major weather forecast models (GFDL, Euro) show the storm stalling over the Bahamas and slowly advancing toward the Florida coast through the weekend underneath the Bermuda High. Much will be revealed as the storm reemerges over open waters on Wednesday evening.
INTENSITY FORECAST: Chantal may not organize into a hurricane because of a) fast storm motion in the short term b) interaction with mountains in the middle of the week and c) wind shear late in the week and the weekend. Chantal will likely be a weak tropical storm, a tropical depression, or perhaps even a remnant system by the weekend.
HOW WILL IT AFFECT NORTH CAROLINA? As stated above, Chantal is not at this time likely to be a strong, land falling North Carolina system. However, with it in our general region late in the week and the weekend, it's possible some of its moisture may be incorporated into a cold frontal zone in the area. For that region, 40 - 60% rain chances are necessary for the Thursday-through-Sunday period.
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