Heavy rains here as Arthur targets N.C. Outer Banks

"Looks Mean," U.S. astronaut Reid Wiseman wrote in post of this photo of Tropical Storm Arthur taken from the International Space Station.

 Up to 3 inches of rain could fall between late Wednesday afternoon and lunchtime on Independence Day, the National Weather Service says, and don't be surprised to see flood watches go up Thursday.

The Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla., has placed the region in the “slight risk” zone for severe storms this afternoon and tonight.

Meanwhile, Arthur, last seen meandering off the mid-Florida coast, is forecast to grow into a Category 1 hurricane by late Thursday night, with peak winds at 80 m.p.h., as it approaches North Carolina.

A hurricane watch is up for Pamlico Sound and the Outer Banks from Bogue Inlet to Oregon Inlet. Then Arthur is doomed to become a fish storm, veering out into the North Atlantic and passing off the Cape Cod coast Saturday morning.

While Arthur won't impact the immediate Philadelphia region directly, it will be a factor.

An approaching front that is plowing its way through this oppressive tropical soup will be luring some of Arthur's moisture toward the northwest.

The upshot of all this will be an end to the longest dry spell the region has experienced since mid-April.

June rainfall finished at 5.69 inches, or 2-plus inches above normal, but half of that came in one episode.

Not a trace of rain has fallen in the last five days, the longest stretch of dryness since the dry spell that began back on April 16.

As for the Fourth, the showers should be ending by the afternoon, and the night skies should be ripe for fireworks.