Tropical Storm Cristobal brushes NC coast

July 20, 2008 8:38:00 PM PDT
Tropical Storm Cristobal headed for the open Atlantic late Sunday as forecasters discontinued tropical storm warnings along the Carolinas. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Dolly drenched Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and was expected to reach the Gulf of Mexico Monday afternoon.

At 11 p.m. EDT Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said Cristobal's center had moved to 30 miles east of Cape Hatteras with maximum sustained winds near 50 mph. The storm was headed northeast at 9 mph.

The advisory predicted little change in strength over the next day or two.

Cristobal's strongest winds were east of the center, out at sea, National Weather Service meteorologist Rich Bandy said.

Bandy said some rain had fallen over the smoldering wildfire that has burned 64 square miles in Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge since it was started by lightning June 1.

The Weather Service said Cristobal was expected to produce up to an inch of rain along the North Carolina coast during the next 24 hours.

The prospect of seeing Cristobal head out to sea pleased a fishing captain at Ocracoke, an island south of Cape Hatteras.

"Let's get it over with so we can go fishing," said Capt.

David Nagel, who has operated the "Drum Stick" charter boat for 31 years. "Nobody's out. Everybody's tied up."

Nagel said he saw ominous clouds looming to the south and the seas outside his harbor were 6 to 8 feet with winds blowing about 25 mph.

Rainfall was expected to be 1 to 2 inches with isolated amounts of 4 to 5 inches in areas where heavy rain bands passed overhead, Bandy said.

Cristobal's winds were expected to push tides 2 to 3 feet above normal. The National Weather Service said a few areas could see flooding from heavy rain.

Minor flooding was reported Saturday in Wilmington, N.C., and the area picked up 3.43 inches of rain, a record for the day.

Dolly, the fourth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, sped toward the Cancun area on Sunday, packing sustained winds near 50 mph and prompting a tropical storm warning for the Yucatan peninsula.

At 11 p.m. EDT, the center of the storm was about 95 miles southeast of Cozumel, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, Hurricane Fausto was expected to continue moving northwest. The storm's maximum sustained winds were near 90 mph and its center was located about 375 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Forecasters expected the hurricane to weaken to a tropical storm in the next two days.

Tropical storms have maximum sustained winds of at least 39 mph.

The Hurricane Center also said Tropical Storm Bertha had lost its tropical system characteristics and was expected to weaken during the next day or so. The center of Bertha was 850 miles east-northeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.