Tropical Storm Beryl, the second named storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, formed off the North Carolina coast Tuesday, and a tropical storm watch was issued for the eastern part of the state.
A hurricane reconnaissance aircraft reported that the storm's maximum sustained winds were at least 40 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. At 5 p.m. EDT, Beryl was centered about 180 miles southeast of North Carolina's Cape Hatteras and was moving north at about 6 mph.
The storm is expected to make its closest approach to North Carolina on Wednesday, and it was forecast to remain a tropical storm, hurricane specialist Eric Blake said.
A slow turn toward the northwest was expected later Tuesday or today.
The tropical storm watch, indicating tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours, extended along the coast from north of Cape Lookout to south of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.
"We are watching the storm very closely. With the projected track, at this point, we're not anticipating problems, but certainly things can change quickly," said Dorothy Toolan, a spokeswoman for Dare County, N.C., which includes the state's northern Outer Banks.
The first named storm of the June-November Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Alberto, splashed ashore in Florida in mid-June, then plowed north along the coast past North Carolina's Outer Banks. The storm was blamed for one drowning.