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Tropical Storm Irma expected to bring rain to Maryland, Delaware beaches

As Tropical Storm Harvey focused national attention on Texas and the Gulf Coast, another tropical storm was forming Monday off the South Carolina coast — though it's expected to have minimal impact on Maryland's coast.

Tropical Storm Irma was still a disorganized area of rain and winds early Monday, but the National Hurricane Center predicted a 90 percent chance that it would develop into a tropical cyclone within 48 hours.

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A tropical storm watch was placed into effect from Charleston, S.C., to the North Carolina-Virginia border. The hurricane center was predicting 3 to 6 inches of rain and perhaps up to 9 inches in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Irma is forecast to brush the Delmarva peninsula Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but the storm is not expected to bring more than rain, heavy surf and blustery winds to the Maryland shoreline.

Meteorologists expect up to an inch of rain could fall in Ocean City and across the lower Eastern Shore, though they estimated there's only about a 15 percent chance that winds could reach tropical storm force in that region.

The end of August and beginning of September mark the heart of hurricane season in the Atlantic, and it has been an active season this year.

Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States in a dozen years. Conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and across southern Texas and Louisiana aren't letting the storm dissipate, or escape the region, contributing to the record-setting deadly flooding there.

On average, the season's first major hurricane doesn't form until early September. By this time of the season, four or five tropical storms have typically formed, but Irma would be the ninth.

The 2017 season might well add a 10th by the weekend. The hurricane center says a trough of low pressure, known as a wave, off the coast of Africa has a 70 percent chance of becoming Tropical Storm Jose in the next five days.

Tribune News Service contributed to this article.

(NOAA/National Hurricane Center)
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