EXPLAINER: Potential tropical cyclone? What does that mean?

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tropical weather is expected in southeastern North Carolina over the next few days, but there has been some confusion on how that system is being classified.

It’s called Potential Tropical Cyclone 10 but is forecast to become Irma.

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So what is a potential tropical cyclone is? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

The National Hurricane Center created this term to describe systems that they are watching for tropical development over a short time frame. The NHC can start issuing advisories that contain tropical storm or hurricane watches and warnings that could not have been issued under the old system.

It’s all in an effort to get information out to the public as soon as possible to keep everyone safe during tropical weather events.

“All these coastal communities and emergency managers and other partners need lead time,” Steve Pfaff, NWS Wilmington Warning Coordination Meteorologist, said. “So when we have a situation where a storm is developing right near the coast, if we wait until it develops into a tropical depression, then that guidance from the Hurricane Center is gonna be delayed as a result of that policy.”

This system is likely to become Tropical Storm Irma in the next 12 to 24 hours, bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to our area.

See the latest tropical update here.