Hurricane Fiona: Storm’s current forecast for North Carolina

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The storm’s path is off the North Carolina coast, but there could still be impacts on the state’s beaches.

National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Fiona could bring dangerous rip currents to the North Carolina coast as it passes offshore this week.

The conditions are expected to impact popular beach destinations near Wilmington and along parts of the Outer Banks starting Wednesday, Sept. 21, according to the National Weather Service.

In New Hanover and Pender counties, “swells from Hurricane Fiona” make life-threatening rip currents possible from Wednesday to Friday, forecasters said. The area will be at high risk, meaning rip currents are “likely” and the water can pose dangers to all swimmers.

“Stay out of the water,” officials wrote in an online description of the high-risk alert. “Remember to heed the advice of the local beach patrol and flag warning systems.”

Also along the coast, there’s a potential for “strong” rip currents in Carteret and Onslow counties as well as off Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. That threat — which also lies in the northern Outer Banks — will last through the end of the week, the weather service said.

Rip currents are channels of water that can pull beachgoers from shore. If you’re caught in one, it’s best to remain calm and “swim parallel to the shore and swim back to land at an angle,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As of 11 am on Tuesday, Hurricane Fiona was a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. After dumping rain on the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, it was 40 miles northwest of Grand Turk Island of the Turks and Caicos, according to the Miami Herald and the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is expected to stay to the east of the continental United States, a forecast map shows.

Simone Jasper is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.

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