First Named Storm of Season Could Drench July 4th

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Tropical Storm Arthur – 3 Day Forecast Cone

This graphic shows the 3-Day Forecast Cone for Tropical Storm Albert. The storm, expected to brush the east coast this week, is forecast to be at hurricane strength by 2pm Thursday, July 3, 2014. (Credit: NHC/NOAA)

(CNN) — It’s likely to be a very wet Fourth of July for North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off eastern Florida, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday, making it the first named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.

The center said the system could reach minimal hurricane strength by the time it hits the Outer Banks on Thursday night.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, the center said Arthur was moving toward the northwest at 5 mph and its general motion should continue through the night. Its center is expected to remain east of the east-central coast of Florida through Wednesday night.

Florida can expect heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, with accumulations of 1 to 3 inches typical, and up to 5 inches in some areas.

The Bahamas could see up to 6 inches of rain.

On Tuesday afternoon CNN affiliate WWAY in Wilmington, North Carolina, was asking its readers to take a survey measuring how concerned they are about Arthur. Will it make them “batten down the hatches” or be just “another day at the beach”– or does it matter, “as long as it’s gone in time for fireworks”? There’s also an option for “don’t know/don’t care.”

Lee Nettles, the executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, said that his office hasn’t received any panicked or alarmed calls from anyone.

“You take every storm warning seriously,” he said. “But, for the most part, folks aren’t overly concerned.”

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said the fact that the Outer Banks, a string of barrier islands, is hard to get onto and off of may make the situation difficult for those who are planning to spend their July Fourth holiday there. The islands are low and rain could easily wash onto the roads, making them impassable even before the eye of the storm makes landfall, he said. All preparation for the storm should be done as soon as possible, he stressed.

After hitting the Carolinas, the system is likely to turn northeast, forecasters said, bringing showers to New York City and Boston. Washington will likely get wet, but it’s unclear just how torrential the downpour could be or how it might affect the July Fourth holiday, Myers said, predicting that winds won’t get fiercer than 20 to 25 mph in the nation’s capital.

CNN’s Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.

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