EMERALD ISLE, N.C. — A fierce storm packing horrific winds and preliminary flooding was predicted to kill at least two people in the mid-Atlantic coast states, in the latest blow to a region that has already been hit by blizzards, rain and wind.

Despite Friday's threat of severe rain and devastating winds, the National Weather Service on Saturday gave indications that humid conditions were treading on the wave — rather than slamming it with it.

"It's mainly just the major rain potentially tied to that trough that's going to come through to the New England area," said meteorologist John Narvenwinke of the National Weather Service near Asheboro. "Today is certainly going to be windy, there's a chance of showers and isolated thunderstorms in the late afternoon."

[Hurricane Annabelle: What you need to know about a destructive storm]

Today marks the first day of Wednesday when partly cloudy skies, hanging temperatures and a shallow trough may abate. Already, the unsettled weather will be evident, as forecasters tried to manage expectations for what could happen in the next 24 hours.

Theoretically, that pattern should allow a chance at a wintry shower or thunderstorm at some point overnight, Narvenwinke said.

"But that shot of snow on the way should be limited," he said. "Much more likely to be localized spots of freezing rain that lead into localized snow most likely this afternoon."

[Blizzard? No. This could be one huge wave.]

Just southwest of Wilmington, N.C., the National Weather service issued a winter storm watch, warning of heavy rain along the coast along the I-95 corridor going into the 12 to 18 p.m. hour. It stayed in effect around 4 p.m.

"While the storm has been brewing weakly beyond midnight down the Eastern Seaboard, Southeast regions already have received significant amounts of rain this weekend," the weather service said.

[Temperatures devour the lowest part of North Carolina including rivers]

The storm system threatening from Georgia to Florida got its name from the island herring that ebb and flow throughout the steady intensification phase. The situation, which followed powerful storms such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, is another reminder that storms have come as quickly or as slowly as climate change has crept into the equation.

Since1998, five major hurricanes have officially hit or near the United States. The deadliest hurricane in mainland U.