Ophelia weakens to post-tropical cyclone after making landfall in N.C.

Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall Saturday morning in North Carolina with forecasters warning of "life-threatening storm surge inundation" over portions of North Carolina and Virginia. Image courtesy of National Hurricane Center

Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Tropical Storm Ophelia weakened into a post-tropical cyclone on Saturday after making landfall earlier in the morning in North Carolina.

Heavy rains and strong winds lashed the East Coast throughout the day, prompting warnings of dangerous storm surges.

"Ophelia appears to have lost its tropical characteristics," the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. update on Saturday.

Maximum wind speeds have dropped to about 34 miles per hour, mostly over the ocean.

"Coastal flooding will continue along portions of Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers through Sunday," the National Hurricane Center said.

"Heavy rainfall from Ophelia may produce localized flash and urban flooding impacts across portions of the Mid-Atlantic states from Virginia to New Jersey through Sunday."

The NHC also warned that much of the East Coast will be affected by life-threatening swells generated by the storm.

Earlier in the morning, Ophelia made landfall at Emerald Isle, N.C., after the system was elevated to a Tropical Storm on Friday, leading forecasters to issue several warnings that have since been removed.

Tropical storm warnings were put into effect for parts of North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.

Flood watches were issued for parts of North Carolina and Virginia with coastal flood warnings extending into Delaware and New Jersey. Up to 6 inches of rain were expected to fall in the heaviest areas.

Ophelia is the 16th named tropical weather system of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

Just 1,650 customers remained without power as of 11 p.m. EDT Saturday.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency across the state earlier Saturday.

"We encourage people to pay close attention to the weather and take precautions," he said in a statement.

Several events were canceled across North Carolina amid storm conditions.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin also declared a state of emergency in that state.

The NFL warned that several of its Sunday games could be impacted by wet conditions brought on by the storm.