By Mary Gilbert, CNN Meteorologist
(CNN) — Tropical Storm Philippe will interact with a potent cold front this weekend and funnel tropical moisture across the Northeast, raising the risk of flooding rainfall in an area that has been soaked repeatedly in recent weeks.
The storm is still far from the US mainland and just north of the Caribbean. But its projected track has echoes of Hurricane Lee in September, when the much-weakened system brought strong winds and rain to parts of the Northeast and Canada.
Philippe is expected to approach New England as a tropical storm on Sunday, but may lose some of its tropical nature as it approaches the coast. The severity of rain and wind will be the same regardless of whether it’s a tropical storm or a post-tropical storm at landfall.
A soggy weekend is likely across much of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, but exactly where the heaviest rain falls will depend on Philippe’s track over the next several days.
For now, portions of New England and northern New York are most likely to experience heavy rain and potential flooding. A Level 2 of 4 slight risk of excessive rainfall was issued for Saturday in these areas by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
But the bull’s-eye of heaviest rainfall could shift if low pressure moving across the eastern US pulls Philippe closer to the Northeast. This potential shift could move the risk closer to the mid-Atlantic – an area where another deluge would be particularly worrisome.
Parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast were inundated by record-breaking rainfall last week. The most intense rainfall hit the New York City tri-state, where floodwaters inundated subways, roads and basements and several locations recorded the wettest day in history.
Heavy rainfall is not expected to be as severe as last week, but a widespread 1 to 2 inches of rain is possible across New York and New England. Higher amounts closer to 2 to 4 inches could fall where the heaviest rain sets up, likely in a more focused portion of New England.
In addition to heavy rain, gusty winds are possible across portions of New England and Atlantic Canada Saturday and Saturday night as Philippe nears landfall. Philippe’s winds are expected to remain at tropical-storm strength, but the cyclone itself may not be fully tropical at the time of landfall.
Bermuda at risk for tropical strike
Philippe has quite a distance to travel before approaching the US and Canada. The tropical storm was less than 200 miles north of the US Virgin Islands on Wednesday and on track to come in close contact with Bermuda.
Bermuda is only 15 miles across, so landfalls are rare. Only eleven systems have made landfall on the island since 1851, according to data from NOAA.
The Bermuda Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch for the island on Wednesday, since Philippe won’t have to make landfall in order to unload strong wind gusts and heavy rain.
The storm’s severity on Bermuda will depend on just how strong it is and how close it tracks to the island. Tropical-storm-force wind gusts are likely when Philippe makes its closest pass on Friday. Rain will arrive ahead of any wind and could begin as early as Thursday across the island.
Philippe is expected to be a tropical storm as it swipes the island, so the risk of widespread damage is limited, but power outages are possible.
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