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  1. Local Weather

Atlantic system strengthens into Tropical Storm Arthur; Carolina coast put on alert

The system is expected to reach the North Carolina coast on Monday.

Tropical Storm Arthur is here.

After spending a week as an area of low pressure and less than a day as a tropical depression, the first named storm of the 2020 hurricane season became official at 11 p.m. on Saturday night — two weeks before the official start to Atlantic hurricane season.

By 5 p.m. Sunday, the storm’s center was about 275 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, heading north-northeast toward the state’s coastline at about 9 miles per hour.

Hours earlier, Arthur reached sustained wind speeds of 45 miles per hour, pushing it just past the threshold to become a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Meteorologists at the Hurricane Center said they expect the tropical storm system to strengthen over the next 48 hours, making a turn toward the northeast and revving up speed as it heads toward North Carolina.

A tropical storm watch for some parts of North Carolina’s coast was upgraded to a warning Sunday morning. According to the Hurricane Center, tropical storm conditions are expected to occur within the next 24 to 36 in the area from Surf City to Duck, North Carolina, and from Pamlico to Albermarle Sounds.

Tropical Storm Arthur is expected to remain well offshore the east coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina today, and then move near or just east of the coast of North Carolina on Monday.

While some strengthening is in the forecast during the next 48 hours, Arthur is likely to turn away from the east coast of the United States on Monday night and lose its tropical storm status by Tuesday, the Hurricane Center said.

Arthur will not be a threat to Florida and is unlikely to bring rain to any part of the state on Sunday more than a few bands in Northeast Florida, according to the National Weather Service. Tampa Bay will have a dry weekend, with rain chances returning for Monday.

Arthur reached tropical storm status nearly two weeks before the official start date of hurricane season, making 2020 the sixth year in a row that a named storm formed before the June 1 official start date.