Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm in the Atlantic for 2020, is bringing high surf, heavy rains and strong winds to the coast of North Carolina, but it appears to be moving out to sea.
As of Monday afternoon, Arthur was 55 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, with sustained winds of 50 mph, the National Weather Service said.
A tropical storm warning extends from Ocracoke Inlet, about 100 miles north across the Outer Banks, to Duck, the weather service said. The warning includes the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds.
The storm, which is moving northeast at 16 mph, was not expected to make landfall. Arthur was forecast to skirt the coast Monday before moving back east into the ocean late Monday night.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 125 miles from the center, "primarily over water to the east of the center," the weather service said.
Arthur is expected to lose its tropical storm status by late Monday or Tuesday, the weather service said.
Governor urges people to 'pay close attention'
The official start of hurricane season is two weeks away, but North Carolina is already preparing residents to keep their eyes on Arthur as the storm ramps up.
"Everyone in our coastal areas should remain aware and cautious as Arthur brushes our coast on Monday," Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press release issued Sunday. "Pay close attention to the forecast and don't take chances in dangerous surf."
Strong winds arrived early Monday and are expected to persist until the evening. Gusts stronger than the 50-mph sustained winds are possible. Scattered power outages are also possible, the release from the governor's office said.
"This early season storm reminds us that we always need to be prepared for severe weather," North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said in a press release issued Sunday.
Dangerous marine conditions
The state's Outer Banks could see gusts between 50 and 65 mph and between one to three inches of rain, with isolated rainfalls of five inches in some areas.
Heavy surf, life-threatening rip currents and dangerous marine conditions were present along the coast Sunday and Monday.
In Florida, dangerous rip currents led to water rescues of 70 people in Volusia County on Sunday, a release from the Volusia County beach safety division said.
Three people -- ages 16, 17 and 24 -- were transported to local hospitals for precautionary reasons, Volusia County beach safety division Capt. Laura Warner told CNN in an email Sunday night.
Red and purple flags were flown Sunday to indicate dangerous rip current conditions and dangerous marine life, after Portuguese men-o-war washed up on beaches the past two days.
The rescues took place from Ormond Beach to New Smyrna Beach, Warner said.
"It is very likely that the storm in the Atlantic is effecting our surf conditions," she said. "But it's not uncommon to have rough surf and dangerous rip current conditions this time of year."