Tropical Storm Gabrielle Heads for Carolinas

September 8, 2007
Subtropical Storm Gabrielle Forms

Update 9:06 p.m.: Gabrielle has been upgraded to a tropical storm and is forecast to strengthen before it makes landfall tomorrow. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the North Carolina coast to the lower part of the Virginia coast and Albemarle Sound. A tropical storm watch -- which means that the storm might affect the area within 36 hours -- is in effect from the North Carolina/Virginia border to the north portion of Chesapeake Bay.

Although no cruises have yet been impacted, those heading from northeast ports to (or back from) Bermuda or the Bahamas can expect high seas and windy conditions as the storm nears land.

We'll keep you posted.

(11:47 a.m.) -- Subtropical Storm Gabrielle is continuing its path toward the Carolina coast and is expected to make landfall sometime on Sunday, September 9, with sustained winds of at least 39 miles per hour.

A tropical storm warning is expected for Charleston; warnings have already been issued for the North Carolina coast. A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within 24 hours.

At this time no cruise operations are affected as the storm is below the northeast corridor to Bermuda and above the southeast corridor to Florida. Carnival's Celebration, which sails from Jacksonville, is in port today and will miss the storm's impact on the northern Florida coast as it moves toward the Carolinas. Charleston does not have a ship on its port schedule until September 22.

Carnival Victory departed Norfolk yesterday for a six-night cruise to the Bahamas and is scheduled to return on October 13; its itinerary has not been impacted.

A subtropical storm is one in which the wind patterns are broader than in a tropical storm, which has a distinct "eye" like that of a hurricane. Gabrielle is expected to reach tropical storm status later today.

Gabrielle's winds will likely increase as it heads towards land, but there is only a 30 percent possibility that it will develop into a Category One hurricane (with wind speeds of 74 m.p.h. or more).

We'll keep you posted.

--by Jana Jones, Cruise Critic contributor