November 16,  2009
7:20 pm

STORM UPDATE …..
Ferries will run between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe
..…WITH VIDEO

By IRENE NOLAN




The North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division will begin running emergency ferries from Stumpy Point on the Dare County mainland to Rodanthe tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m.

Also, DOT officials said “significant” progress was made today in stopping ocean overwash on the damaged portion of Highway 12 in north Rodanthe, so engineers can assess the damage to the asphalt and start repairs.

A ferry’s arrival this morning on a trial run to the harbor at Rodanthe was news that spread like wildfire on the island.

The coastal storm that caused serious damage to the highway has kept the road closed through Pea Island since late last Thursday.

Yesterday, DOT opened a sand road route around the 800 feet or so of damaged highway, but it is open to four-wheel drive vehicles only.  The highway is still closed to regular traffic.

Also, the sand road is not feasible for large trucks delivering fuel and groceries to the island.

Since the last deliveries to supermarkets and gas stations were last Wednesday or Thursday, the shelves in the stores are looking very empty, especially in the bread and produce aisles.  And fuel supply is running low.

The only other access to the island has been from the south via a 2 1/2-hour ferry from Swan Quarter to Ocracoke and another 40-minute ferry from Ocracoke to Hatteras village.

Jack Cahoon, director of the Ferry Division, told Island Free Press reporter and videographer Rob Alderman in an interview this morning that when the service starts, there will be six round trips a day with three of the large ferries plying the route.

The crossing takes about an hour and 45 minutes, Cahoon said.

The emergency route, approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, is open to residents and visitors. However, priority may be given to emergency vehicles, utility trucks, service vehicles, and vendors at times.
 
The Stumpy Point ferry dock is accessible from U.S. 264 West, one-half  mile past the entrance to the village of Stumpy Point. The emergency dock in Rodanthe is accessible from Myrna Peters Road, next to the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building, towards Rodanthe Harbor.

There will be three ferries on the emergency route, utilizing three double-ender ferries -- the Motor Vessels Croatan, W. Stanford White, and Hatteras, with a capacity of 40 vehicles and 300 passengers each.
 
The Stumpy Point-Rodanthe schedule is as follows:

•        Departing Stumpy Point daily: 6:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
•        Departing Rodanthe daily: 6:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
 
The ferry division will continue to run the additional runs added to the Ocracoke-Swan Quarter route:

•        Departing Ocracoke at 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
•        Departing Swan Quarter at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
 
The following runs on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island route have been cancelled:

•        7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. departing from Ocracoke
•        10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. departing from Cedar Island
 
The following runs on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island route will continue:

•        7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. departing from Cedar Island
•        10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. departing from Ocracoke
 
No reservations are available during this emergency situation. Motorists will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis.

There will also be no tolls on the emergency ferry routes, according to the Ferry Division’s communications director, Lucy Wallace.

The Ferry division says that all of these changes are dependent upon the tidal conditions on both Hatteras and Ocracoke islands and that this schedule will remain in effect until Highway 12 becomes passable for the general public.
 
After Hurricane Isabel in 2003 cut an inlet between Buxton and Frisco, cutting off highway access for two months, the Ferry Division began working on an emergency plan.
After Isabel, ferries were run from Stumpy Point to Hatteras village to bring in supplies to the stranded villagers.

And the ferry basin and docks in Rodanthe were readied for an emergency situation, such as the scenario that played out in last week’s coastal storm.

Meanwhile, work continued today on assessing and repairing the damage to Highway 12 in north Rodanthe.

“We made significant progress with the sand berm today,” said Jerry Jennings, DOT’s District 1 engineer. “We hope it will survive the next high tide.”

Jennings said there was some overwash during the high tide this morning, but that was not nearly as problematic has high tides have been since last week.

Eugene Sexton, Dare County superintendent, said earlier today that DOT is hoping to have Highway 12 open to two lanes of traffic on Friday.

Jennings said that it may be possible to repair and re-open the southbound lane earlier than Friday for one-lane traffic, but the logistics of repairing the northbound lane while traffic is passing through would slow the process of opening two lanes.

All is dependent, Jennings and Sexton, said on keeping the ocean at bay while the repairs are ongoing.

The wind is forecast to shift to the northeast tonight and blow 20 to 25 knots, which could be a problem for DOT.


FOR MORE FERRY INFORMATION

For further information, go to the Ferry Division Web site at www.ncferry.org or call 1-800-293-3779 and Press 1. There are several ways for citizens to find out about road conditions. Travelers can call 511, the state’s toll-free travel information line, or visit the NCDOT Traveler Information Web site at www.ncdot.gov/traffictravel.






November 15,  2009

7:45 pm

STORM UPDATE....
Alternate route around Highway 12 damage now open, while
DOT continues to assess damage
....WITH NEW SLIDE SHOW AND VIDEO



All of Hatteras Island continues to be under a declared State of Emergency, and Highway 12 remains closed to regular traffic north of Rodanthe.

However, the North Carolina Department of Transportation opened a special one-lane travel route for four-wheel drive vehicles only at 11 a.m. today.

The route will be over sand to the west of the seriously damaged portion of the highway at the S-curves and Mirlo Beach area of Rodanthe.

And the alternate route will be a available 24 hours a day -- a change to the previously announced policy of restricting it to daylight driving.

Jerry Jennings, DOT’s Division 1 engineer, said yesterday afternoon that traffic was moving smoothly over the alternate route, and that DOT equipment was grading the sand road periodically to smooth out the ruts.

Jennings said that there was still some ocean water flowing over Highway 12 today in the area of the S-curves and Mirlo Beach.  He added that there was “a little” additional damage at the high tide early this morning.

Today, DOT was building a sand “dike” between the damaged highway and the ocean to keep the overwash at bay while the road condition is being assessed.

Jennings was not yet willing to venture a guess as to how long it would take to repair the highway and restore normal traffic.

“Tomorrow, we will have a better handle on it,” he said.

His most optimistic guess at this point is “several days.”

Meanwhile, he said Highway 12 on Ocracoke had been cleared.

And serious soundside flooding in Frisco, Hatteras, and Ocracoke was receding.

A Dare County media release noted that the alternate route at the S-curves is for “essential travel” only.

However, there are apparently no restrictions on “essential” travel, other than you must travel in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Checkpoints at the north and south end of the alternate route were checking vehicles only to confirm that they were equipped with four-wheel drive.

The alternate route is open to residents and visitors and will be available for daily use until regular service is restored.

Passage through this area is subject to the following restrictions:–
 
•    Only four-wheel drive vehicles will be allowed to transit the area.

•    Travel will be one lane only.  Be prepared to wait until oncoming traffic is cleared.

•    Travel may be restricted at anytime because of weather conditions, construction, or emergency vehicles.

•    Travel will be allowed 24 hours a day, a departure from the earlier announced policy of daylight hours only.

•    Travelers in four-wheel drive vehicles should lower their tire pressure before crossing the alternate route.  Today, several drivers who had not done that got stuck, which only slows down the process of moving vehicles across.

The area a half-mile north and south to the entrance of the temporary travel route has been declared a work zone.  No parking will be permitted along the shoulders of the road in the area. 

Dare County Emergency Management is still recommending that residents and visitors consider using the alternate route to Hatteras Island by ferry from Swan Quarter through Ocracoke.  (For more information call the Ferry Division at 1-800-293-3779 and then press 1.  Or visit the Website at www.ncferry.org.)

And regularly scheduled trash pick-up for Hatteras Island will resume on Monday.  However, service will start earlier than usual on Monday, beginning at midnight.


An aerial view of the damage by Don Bowers











November 14,  2009

6:40 pm

STORM UPDATE….
Highway 12 is seriously damaged at S-curves and remains closed
….WITH SLIDE SHOWS AND VIDEO


By IRENE NOLAN



Highway 12 at the S-curves north of Rodanthe was further damaged by the high tide early this morning and remained closed today at the Bonner Bridge.


Other news headlines from today:

•    Significant soundside flooding continued in Frisco, Hatteras village, and Ocracoke

•    Highway 12 on the north end of Ocracoke was partially cleared by DOT and one lane was open this afternoon

•    The Department of Transportation Ferry Division ran a ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island at 12:30 p.m. and another ferry to Swan Quarter for people who needed or wanted to get off Hatteras Island

•    And the ferry division set a new emergency evacuation schedule from Hatteras to Ocracoke and to the mainland, effective today and running at least through Monday. (See following story for schedule.)

“We’ve lost significant pavement,” said Jerry Jennings, Division 1 engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said this afternoon about the roadway in the S-curves area.

He said that 700 to 800 feet of the highway was been washed away or undermined. He said pavement loss varies from just a few feet off the shoulder to half of one lane and up to three-quarters of a lane at Mirlo Beach.

“It’s the worst damage I’ve ever seen in this area,” he said.

He and Allen Russell, DOT maintenance engineer for Dare, Hyde, and Currituck counties, compared the damage to the highway to what Hurricane Dennis did to the road between Avon and Buxton in 1999.  A significant part of the highway was washed away and undermined then and had to be rebuilt over a period of several weeks.

DOT crews were working long hours to scrape sand off the road all along Pea Island, including 3 to 4 feet that built up just south of the Bonner Bridge in the early morning high tide.

However, DOT was hampered in dealing with the damaged pavement because the ocean was still overwashing the highway at the S-curves all day today, even at low tide about mid-day.

“The challenge of restoring traffic is at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Jennings said.

“We’re working to restore transportation as quickly as possible,” Russell said. “We haven’t given up yet.”

“I think DOT will look at every available option,” added Dorothy Toolan, Dare County spokesperson.

Apparently among the options under consideration is providing a four-wheel drive only route through the area until the highway can be repaired.

This is similar to what DOT did after Hurricane Dennis when the department built a temporary packed sand and gravel road in the area between Buxton and Avon. That was used for several weeks until the highway was rebuilt.

In any event, it seems likely that access will be restored to emergency and four-wheel drive vehicles before it is restored to the general public.

Meanwhile, folks who need to travel to and from Hatteras can do it via Ocracoke and the Swan Quarter ferry.

Allen Burrus, vice chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners and owner of Burrus Red & White Supermarket in Hatteras village, said today that even though considerable soundside still covered the roads in Hatteras village and Ocracoke today, the decision was made to start the ferry runs to expedite deliveries to the island.

Burrus said there were tractor-trailers stranded on Hatteras Thursday when the road closed, and that grocery stores, such as his, were not able to get deliveries yesterday.  Friday, he said, is a major day for grocery deliveries.

Soundside flooding was receding this evening – very slowly.  That is also reminiscent of Hurricane Dennis.

The rumor mill has always worked overtime in our small communities but it was really revved up today, aided by Facebook.  It used to take a little longer for island legends to make the rounds.

Here is a roundup of some news items that might set straight some of what’s out there:

Dare County spokesperson Dorothy Toolan said there are no plans now to start running ferries between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point.  However, the infrastructure is in place to do that and the ferry basins were recently dredged should that ferry route be needed in an emergency.

The county Web cam at Mirlo Beach has been down because of an Internet problem, Toolan said.  Work is underway to restore the connection.

The highway is not “gone” north of Rodanthe nor has “20 miles” been wiped out. Again, 700 to 800 feet had been damaged as of this morning.

The National Weather Service says the coastal storm is moving away from Hatteras and conditions should be improving.  A coast flood warning was cancelled today and replaced with a high surf advisory.  Just in case anyone is thinking about going for a swim, there is also a high chance of rip currents.

Dare County Emergency Management and DOT will reassess the situation on the highway tomorrow.

We will bring you news as soon as we get it and separate fact from fiction.


Click here to see a slide show of photos from readers

Click here to see a slide show of photos by Bryan Elkus


NEW VIDEO AND SLIDE SHOW - 11.14.2009 9:50 PM








November 13,  2009
9:20 pm
UPDATE….Night falls on islands battered by the ocean and sound
…WITH SLIDE SHOWS


By IRENE NOLAN


The Weather Channel is calling it Atlantic Assault.  Some locals are calling it the Veteran’s Day Storm, since it started winding up on Nov. 11.

Today, it was just the Friday the 13th storm. A bad luck day for islanders and travelers.

As night fell on Hatteras and Ocracoke, Highway 12 remained closed through Pea Island, and overwash continued at other spots, including Buxton and Ocracoke. The Hatteras Inlet ferry was still suspended.

The ocean continued to batter the coastline, while winds picked up from the northwest and sent tidal flooding from the Pamlico Sound into southern Hatteras Island.

Allen Burrus, vice-chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners and owner of Burrus Red & White Supermarket in Hatteras village, said early this evening that the sound tide was about 8 to 10 inches deep in the parking lot of his business, about 8 inches deep on Highway 12 in front of the store in the heart of the village, and as deep as 18 inches farther down the highway near the marinas.

Sound tides were also rising on Ocracoke, where Highway 12 remained “officially” closed tonight.  Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry runs remain suspended.

Ocean overwash continued at high tide late this afternoon in north Buxton near the motels, though the highway remained open.

Also, this afternoon, North Carolina Department of Transportation officials said that Highway 12 will be closed until at least tomorrow.

“It’s in bad shape,” said Allen Russell, DOT maintenance engineer for Dare, Hyde, and Currituck counties, about the road through the S-curves and the Mirlo Beach area.

“The ocean is breaking across it right now,” Russell said in a telephone interview about mid-afternoon.

He said the overwash had prohibited DOT personnel from doing any work to clear the road between the early morning high tide and this afternoon’s. He estimated that there was four feet of sand on the highway.

“Hopefully, tomorrow, if the ocean calms down we can get in there,” Russell said. “I am hopeful, but I had thought we could get in there today.”

Russell said most of the sandbags at the S-curves had survived the storm. A few, he said, were damaged.

“They did their job,” he said.

Russell also said that “a little” of the pavement at the end of the sandbag area toward Mirlo Beach, may be damaged.

DOT crews had not been able to confirm damage today because of the sand and breaking waves on the road.

If the highway opens tomorrow, he said, it could be to one-lane traffic only.

Russell said that about 1 1/2 to 2 feet of sand on northern Pea Island after the early morning high tide had been cleared off. And he said there were about six minor breaches of the dunes through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, including an area near the maintenance facility where some dunes were flattened.

DOT, he said, has six front-end loaders and one bulldozer with another on the way to clear the highway in the Pea Island area.  That, he said, includes about 10 employees from Manteo, Creswell, and Gates, Currituck, Pasquotank, and Perquimans counties.

DOT crews also traveled to Ocracoke today to clear the highway there.

The next high tide is at about 5 a.m. and could be problematic also, and there may even be some overwash at the 5 p.m. high tide tomorrow.

Several readers have e-mailed questions about the Serendipity cottage, the northernmost house in Mirlo Beach that was featured in the popular film, “Nights in Rodanthe.”

It is surrounded by the ocean and breaking waves – again – but it’s still standing. It has been condemned for some time now and is not occupied.

Hatteras and Ocracoke have fared better than other areas north of Oregon Inlet and on up the coast.  At least two houses fell into the ocean in South Nags Head last night, and several others are still threatened.

This is the second update posted on The Island Free Press today, and the third slide show. Check out the other two below this article.

We have even more photos from readers to post, but that will have to wait until tomorrow, when I hope we can wrap up this storm that began with Hurricane Ida in the Caribbean off Central American earlier in the month, made a U.S. landfall on the Gulf Coast of Alabama earlier this week, moved across Florida and out into the Atlantic, where the remnants of the hurricane formed a coastal low pressure area that was slow to move anywhere.  I heard someone today on the news calling the storm “Nor’Ida.”

Before the weekend is out, we hope it will be out of here.

If you have photos, please send them to editor@islandfreepress.org.

 
Click here for slide show from S-curves and Mirlo Beach by Don Bowers

Click here for North Buxton slide show by Daniel Pullen




November 13,  2009

2:30 pm


UPDATE….State of Emergency declared on Hatteras Island
…WITH SLIDE SHOWS


By IRENE NOLAN


Dare County’s Emergency Control Group declared a state of emergency on Hatteras late this morning, as a nasty and slow moving coastal storm continues to batter Hatteras and Ocracoke with heavy seas, beach erosion, and serious coastal flooding.

Dare County spokeswoman Dorothy Toolan said that the state of emergency on Hatteras Island will allow the county and other agencies access to more resources, such as vehicles, aircraft, and personnel, to assess and repair the damage from the storm.

Winds that had been moderate from the northeast and southeast for the past couple days – and calm at times – shifted to a more northerly direction overnight and brought soundside flooding, especially in Hatteras village and Frisco. 

As of noon, the flooding was not serious and had risen and retreated several times over the morning.  In Frisco, the sound tide was mainly in yards, but in Hatteras village, sound tide covered the highway and side streets at times.

The National Weather Service is predicting that north winds of 20 to 25 knots will continue today and part of tonight over the Pamlico Sound, and will be northwest 15 to 20 tomorrow. It could take a few days for the water levels in the sound to return to normal.

The coastal flooding from the Atlantic Ocean has not been as kind. Seas have been running 10 to 15 feet and battering the shoreline.

Highway 12 is closed from The Bonner Bridge, through Pea Island, and into northern Rodanthe – at Mirlo Beach, of course.

Early this morning, DOT reported up to three feet of sand on the road at the S-Curves and Mirlo Beach.  The sandbags, just north of Mirlo Beach, were exposed in minor storm event earlier this month. Yesterday, the ocean was breaking right over them and into the highway at high tide. Today, DOT reports that most of the bags are gone.

In addition, DOT said there was up to a foot of sand south of the Bonner Bridge on northern Pea Island.  The ocean breached the dunes as many as seven times in the refuge and flattened some dunes near the maintenance area.

DOT crews are working with heavy equipment to clear the highway of sand and water, but there is no information yet on when Highway 12 will re-open.

The next high tide is about 5 p.m., and it could be as damaging as this morning’s high tide about 4 a.m. The flooding is being enhanced now by astronomically higher tides during the new moon.

The slow moving low is expected to start moving east off the coast today, according to the National Weather Service in Newport, N.C. but it could several more tide cycles for the ocean to calm down enough to end the overwash at high tides.

There were also breaches in the dunes this morning in northern Buxton, where water surged under the motels and the side streets of Old Lighthouse Road.  The highway was closed briefly and then re-opened.

Highway 12 on the northern end of Ocracoke is also officially closed, according to Hyde County spokeswoman, Jamie Tunnell.

The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry has been suspended, and there is no word on when it might resume. For updated ferry information, call 1-800-BY-FERRY.

Dare County Emergency Management also reports that portions of Highway 12, also known as the Beach Road, are closed through Kitty Hawk and Kill Devils Hills.  Old Oregon Inlet Road in South Nags Head is open only to residents and property owners.

We are posting two slide shows from yesterday afternoon
's high tide, and will update this story with more photos late this afternoon or evening.

If you have photos of the stormy seas or ocean or sound flooding, please send them to editor@islandfreepress.org.  We will post more photos from readers later today or tomorrow.


Slide Shows


Mirlo Beach and the S-Curves at the high tide on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 12.

Avon Pier at the high tide on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 12





November 12,  2009
Heavy rain and high seas lash Hatteras and Ocracoke islands

By IRENE NOLAN



Hatteras and Ocracoke escaped the high winds from a nasty coastal storm that buffeted areas north of the Oregon Inlet, and especially the Hampton Roads area.


However, the islands did not escape the heavy rainfall that lashed the region and the high seas that pounded the seashore, causing heavy ocean overwash on Pea Island, the S-curves, and Mirlo Beach in north Rodanthe and less serious overwash on the northern end of Ocracoke.

Highway 12 was closed briefly during the early morning high tide around 4 a.m. It opened again with sloppy conditions and sometimes only one lane.  By noon waves were breaking over flattened dunes at the S-curves.  The road stay opened for part of the afternoon to four-wheel-drive vehicles and a “travel at your own risk” warning.

By 3 p.m. it was closed again to all vehicles.

Allen Russell, North Carolina Department of Transportation county maintenance engineer for Dare, Hyde, and Currituck counties, was definitely a man who saw a silver lining in a dark cloud today.

A minor weather event on Nov. 3 and 4 washed the sand off the “dune” at the S-curves, flattening the area and exposing the sandbags. 

So, Russell said in a telephone interview this afternoon, there was not much sand left to wash into the highway with the pounding seas.  Waves were breaking directly onto the road, which made cleaning up the highway between high tides easier for the DOT employees – less sand to scrape off the road!

DOT has a small army of employees with trucks and front-end loaders gathered on northern Hatteras Island to clean the road off as quickly as possible between high tides.

There was also overwash that needed to be cleaned up, Russell said, on the northern end of Ocracoke between the pony pens and the ferry docks.

National Park Service ranger David Carter said that Cape Point was totally overwashed in this afternoon’s high tide.  Also, he said both the Pole Road at Hatteras Inlet and South Point Road on Ocracoke were closed.  The Pole Road had not only standing rainwater but also tidal overwash from both the ocean and the sound.

The seashore and the highway will fare no better tomorrow, weather forecasters say.

The low pressure area that is causing the trouble is very slow moving.  This morning it was off the coast of Cape Lookout.  By late afternoon, it had managed to only travel half the distance between Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras, a couple dozen miles, according to forecaster Hal Austin at the National Weather Service office in Newport, N.C.

Austin said the storm was not expected to move much overnight, but would start heading out to sea by the weekend.

Continued high seas and large breakers in the surf zone will combine with an astronomical higher tide tomorrow, making overwash problems on Highway 12 potentially worse than today.

The Weather Service has a coastal flood warning in effect for the area until 8 a.m. on Saturday, and Dare County Emergency Management is warning travelers to be vigilant in areas of overwash and to expect delays around the high tides tomorrow – at about 4 a.m. and again at 4 p.m.

Interestingly, the reason that the wind hasn’t been howling on Hatteras and Ocracoke is that the low is so close to the islands that this area is less affected by the pressure gradient between the low pressure to the south and a strong high pressure to the north.

The highest wind gust measured yesterday on Hatteras by the Automated Surface Observation System at Billy Mitchell Airport in Frisco was 35 mph from the southeast.  The highest gust on Ocracoke was 31 mph.

While the winds were pretty calm, buckets of rain fell yesterday, last night, and this morning on the islands, causing ponding of water on the roadways in the usual areas and turning yards into huge puddles.

I say “buckets” because the total rainfall for Nov. 10-11, according to the Weather Service, was 3.45 inches on Hatteras and 3.41 on Ocracoke.  On Hatteras, the rainfall was measured at the ASOS in Frisco.

Anyone who was on Hatteras or Ocracoke yesterday knows that we had more rainfall than what was measured.  It also rained most of the night, and there were heavy downpours in thunderstorms this morning and early afternoon.

In addition, both Hatteras and Ocracoke had a six-hour power outage overnight from 10:55 p.m. last night until 5:07 this morning.  According to Cape Hatteras Electric Co-op, the outage was caused when an insulator on a Dominion North Carolina Power transmission line failed in Nags Head.  

Please continue to send us your photos of the stormy seas and overwash, and we will publish a slide show tomorrow.  Send photos to editor@islandfreepress.org.

And if you want to see live pictures of the angry seas in northern Rodanthe and the overwash pouring down the driveways of the houses in Mirlo Beach, you can check out the Dare County Web cam at http://www.darenc.com/webcam/mirlo.php


Click here to see PowerPoint presentation of weather forecast from earlier to today from the National Weather Service.
 



November 11,  2009
 

‘Wicked’ coastal storm forecast to bring coastal flooding and heavy rain

By IRENE NOLAN



The Weather Channel’s storm chaser, Jim Cantore, turned up in Nags Head today, and you know that can’t be good news.

What is being described by Weather Channel and other forecasters  as a “wicked” coastal low is predicted to bring high winds, heavy surf, and coastal flooding along the Outer Banks – beginning tonight and perhaps lasting into the weekend.

“This is building up to be something we haven’t seen in a while,” Sandy Sanderson, Dare County’s emergency management coordinator and a man who is not known for hyping a storm, said in a Weather Channel interview.

Cantore said in a report this afternoon that the storm could rival the devastating Halloween Storm of 1991, also known as The Perfect Storm.

Cantore was most recently seen on the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Ida made landfall in Alabama.  It was by then a tropical storm.

The remnants of Ida are forecast to move off the southeast coast and form a coastal low later today.  That low will move north – very slowly.

A high pressure to the north of the area with the low to the south will increase the pressure gradient and bring high winds along the Outer Banks, starting later today.

Currently, the National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., has issued these warnings for the area – a gale warning, a coastal flood warning, a flood watch (for rainfall in low-lying areas), and high-wind warning.

The winds are not expected to be all that much higher than in a run-of-the-mill northeaster – 30 to 35 knots along the coast and sounds and 35 to 45 knots offshore.

However, the coastal low is forecast to become a cut-off low and hang off the North Carolina coast through the end of the week.

“This will compound the coastal flooding impact and keep seas into double digits entering into the weekend,” according to the Weather Service, which predicted “significant” coastal flooding along the Outer Banks.

Seas are predicted at 12 to 16 feet along the northern Outer Banks, perhaps through Friday afternoon and four or five high-tide cycles. Breakers could be as high as 12 feet.

In addition, by Friday, astronomical high tides will begin to build with the new moon, adding to the coastal flooding and continuing it through the weekend.

Ocean overwash will be at its worst at the high tide – about 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursday and about an hour later each subsequent day.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is already staging equipment on Pea Island, just south of the Bonner Bridge, and in northern Rodanthe.

Travelers can expect some road closures around the time of high tides. In between high tides, DOT will scrape sand and water off the road to allow traffic to pass, if possible.

However, the job of keeping the highway open is complicated by last week’s minor wind and heavy seas event that flattened some dunes.

“I think there is a potential for longer durations of closures,” Sanderson said in an interview yesterday.

In addition, the National Weather Service said rainfall totals on the Outer Banks could be six to eight inches through Saturday.

The Weather Service also says that it expects the coastal low to dissipate by the weekend as high pressure builds over the area.  The seas will gradually subside.

The Island Free Press welcomes readers to send their storm photos to us.  E-mail to editor@islandfreepress.org.


FOR MORE INFORMATION


For more information on highway conditions, you can check the Dare County Web site at www.darenc.com or call 473-3444.

For the latest information from the National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., click here or go to the Web site at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/mhx/



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