Tropical Storm Ophelia has formed off the mid-Atlantic coast.
The storm will move inland and northward across North Carolina, Virginia, and eventually Maryland by Sunday. It is expected to weaken and become a remnant area of low pressure by the time it reaches Maryland. It will not be a tropical storm when it gets here, but it could bring tropical storm conditions to portions of Southern Maryland.
Gov. Wes Moore issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency Friday evening. The order enables the Maryland Department of Emergency Management and other agencies to coordinate with local governments on a storm response.
The state’s emergency activation has been at the “enhanced” level since midday Friday, and is expected to be elevated to “partial” Saturday morning.
In a statement, the Democratic governor asked Marylanders to “remain vigilant” as the storm arrives.
”If you can avoid driving or being out during the storm, please do so,” he said. “We are expecting an extended period of strong winds, heavy rainfall, and elevated tides. Those under a tropical storm warning should be prepared and exercise caution during this multiple-day event.”
Ophelia had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph Friday afternoon according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center. It was forecast to make landfall Saturday morning. The National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for Worcester, Somerset, Wicomico, Dorchester, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties in Southern Maryland from Friday morning until further notice.
In Baltimore, rain is expected late Friday night. Precipitation may become heavy at times as rain bands move across the area through Saturday morning. A wind advisory is in effect for Baltimore from 8 am to 8 pm Saturday, with sustained winds of 25-30 mph and gusts up to 45.
The Department of Transportation distributed a limited number of sandbags to Baltimore City residents and businesses of flood-prone areas between 5-10 pm Friday at the intersection of Thames Street and South Broadway in Fells Point, and at the Stillmeadow Community Fellowship church at 5110 Frederick Ave. The city also made available three parking garages at 805 S. Caroline St., 501 S. Eden St., and the Little Italy garage at 400 S. Central Ave.
Rain will continue into Saturday afternoon with gusty northeast winds 25-35 mph. Depending on the track of the low pressure, a marginal tornado threat may materialize across Southern Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore on Saturday evening.
Rainfall totals of 1-3 inches will be possible, with potential for some isolated amounts over 4 inches. Isolated instances of flooding may occur, but widespread flooding is not expected at this time. High temperatures Saturday will not get out of the 60s for most areas.
The forecast prompted the cancellation of events across the mid-Atlantic on Saturday, including Artscape and the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival, which had been set to return to City Dock in Annapolis.
Organizers with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts cited strong winds forecast for the weekend.
“After careful consideration and based on direction from the Baltimore City Office of Emergency Management and the Baltimore City Fire Department, we have made the difficult yet necessary decision to cancel Artscape for Saturday,” BOPA said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
Organizers of the Trifecta Food Truck & Music Festival, planned for Saturday at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, said the event would be rescheduled in 2024.
Nancy Shoemaker and her husband Bob stopped by a park in downtown Annapolis to pick up sandbags to help protect their waterfront home.
Last year, at the end of October, they experienced a big surge of water that came into their yard and even washed some sandbags away.
“We’re hoping it won’t be that way this time,” Nancy Shoemaker said. “If we have a lot of wind and a lot of surge, it can look like the ocean out there, so that’s a problem.”
The weather was already affecting water taxis in Annapolis, where water taxi driver Scott Bierman said service would shut down at 6 p.m., and the decision had already been made to close Saturday.
“We don’t operate when it’s going to endanger passengers and/or damage vessels,” Bierman said.
Rain will continue into Sunday, especially through early afternoon as the system slowly moves through the state. Winds will continue to be gusty but not as strong as Saturday. Highs again will reach the mid to upper 60s.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.