Annapolis, Md., Sept. 24:Tropical Storm Ophelia was nearing landfall on the North Carolina coast early Saturday with the potential for damaging winds and dangerous surges of water, the U.S. National Hurricane Centre said.
Ophelia was about 25 miles (45 kilometres) southwest of Cape Lookout and about 70 miles (110 kilometres) east-northeast of Cape Fear. The system was moving at 9 mph (15 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), the hurricane centre said in an update at 5 a.m. Saturday.
Life-threatening flooding caused by the weather system was forecast for parts of eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, but the system was forecast to weaken after landfall, the hurricane centre reported.
Ophelia was expected to turn north Saturday and then shift northeast on Sunday. The storm promised a weekend of windy conditions and heavy rain up to 7 inches (18 centimetres) in parts of North Carolina and Virginia and 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimetres) in the rest of the mid-Atlantic region through Sunday.
A storm surge warning, indicating danger from rising water moving inland, was in effect from Bogie Inlet, North Carolina, to Chincoteague, Virginia. Surges between 4 and 6 feet (1.2 and 1.8 meters) were forecast in some areas, the hurricane centre said.
A tropical storm warning was issued from Cape Fear, North Carolina, to Fenwick Island, Delaware. A hurricane watch was in effect in North Carolina for the area north of Surf City to Ocracoke Inlet, the centre reported.
The governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland declared a state of emergency Friday as some schools closed early and several weekend events were cancelled.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued his state's emergency declaration, aiming to expedite preparations and help provide a swift response.
"The storm's path has been difficult to predict and we want to ensure that farmers, first responders and utility crews have the tools necessary to prepare for severe weather," Cooper said.
The North Carolina Ferry System on Friday suspended service on all routes until conditions improve, officials said.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order sought to ease response and recovery efforts. (AP)