STORM UPDATE…Reconstruction of Highway
12 at S-curves will be finished Dec. 11
By IRENE NOLAN
Reconstruction started Monday, Nov. 30, on about a third of a mile of Highway 12 in the area of North Rodanthe and the S-curves.
Jerry Jennings, Division 1 engineer for the North Carolina Department
of Transportation, said that the new section of roadway will be located
about 23 feet to the west of the pavement that was badly damaged in a
prolonged northeaster last month. The move west will still keep the
highway in the DOT right of way.
The $439,600 contract for the work was awarded to RPC
Contracting. Jennings said the company is scheduled to complete
the new two-lane stretch of highway on Friday, Dec. 11, weather
The DOT temporarily repaired the damaged roadbed with asphalt to keep two lanes open during Thanksgiving week.
Traffic this week has been one-lane to allow contractors to construct
the new 1,800-feet of roadway. One-lane traffic will continue
through next week or until the contractors are finished.
Since the high tides and heavy waves from the coast storm battered the
area from Nov. 11 through about Nov. 15, the weather has pretty well
cooperated with efforts to restore traffic and repair the highway.
Jennings said that DOT is coordinating the repairs with the Federal
Highway Administration, and it expects that the department will receive
“some degree of reimbursement,” as was requested by Gov.
Immediately after the highway reconstruction, Waff Contracting of
Edenton will begin a $388,000 project to reconstruct and replace the
sandbags that disappeared or were damaged in the storm.
Jennings said the old, damaged bags will be removed and replaced with
800 bags of sand 15 feet long and 5 feet wide. The new sandbag
area at the S-curves will extend an additional 350 feet to the south.
That project, he said, will take most of the winter to complete.
Another $1.4 million project to nourish the beach in the area of the
S-curves began before Thanksgiving and was suspended during the
Thanksgiving holiday and the highway reconstruction.
Jennings said the project will resume when the new portion of highway is finished.
Roberson Contracting of Williamston, N.C., is transporting 200,000
cubic yards of sand from behind the Oregon Inlet jetty to widen about
2,000 feet of beach.
That project, Jennings said, is expected to continue through March.
Highway 12 in the area of Mirlo Beach and the S-curves will
“still be dependent on future storm events,” Jennings
said. But when the three projects are completed the stretch of
roadway will be “in relatively good shape.”
Nov. 20, 2009
STORM UPDATE….Two lanes of Highway 12 coming for Thanksgiving week
By IRENE NOLAN
your Thanksgiving plans include a trip to Hatteras or Ocracoke, you can
come on down without worrying after the effects of last week’s
devastating coastal storm.
The North Carolina Department of
Transportation engineers say that they expect that two lanes of
Highway 12 will be open by tomorrow in the area of the S-curves and
Mirlo Beach in North Rodanthe to accommodate Thanksgiving week visitors.
And supplies to grocery stores and gas stations have been steadily replenished all week.
Russell, DOT county engineer for Dare, Hyde, and Currituck counties,
said this afternoon that crews were repairing the asphalt on the 800
feet or so of roadway that was damaged in last week’s northeaster.
one lane of the road is open for all vehicles over packed sand and
gravel. A traffic signal coordinates stopping and starting north and
The goal is to repair the damaged highway
enough to keep two lanes open without stops during Thanksgiving week,
which will be a temporary solution.
Jerry Jennings said the
longer-term solution is to move the highway 25 feet to the west –
still within the DOT right of way.
He said proposals for
that relocation have been provided to three contractors and that a
contract should be awarded next week. He hopes work on the new
road will begin the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday.
the relocation is within the right of way, he said, a permit is not
required from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and that DOT has a
CAMA permit to proceed.
A previously planned project to pump
200,000 cubic yards of sand from behind the terminal groin on the north
end of Hatteras Island to the S-curves to replenish the beach there
started this week, but has been suspended temporarily to allow work on
the damaged highway.
DOT received a special use permit from the
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to pump sand onto the beach earlier
this fall. The $1.4 million contract was awarded to Roberson
Contracting of Williamston.
The work on this project will resume when the road is repaired and is expected to take about three to four months.
Allen Burrus, vice chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners
and owner of Burrus Red & White Supermarket in Hatteras village,
said that supplies to replenish island businesses have been arriving
steadily all week.
Highway 12 was closed to all traffic for four
days during the storm, and fuel was disappearing at gas stations, and
grocery shelves were getting bare.
Burrus said the emergency
ferry that ran from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe for only one day before
one lane of Highway 12 was restored to all traffic did its job in
getting the islands resupplied.
The first trucks over, Burrus said, brought “milk, bread, and Budweiser.”
have turkeys, collards, and everything you need for dinner with more
coming,” Burrus said of his market and the others on the islands.
national seashore beaches made it through the storm in mostly good
shape, though a few accesses are closed because of flooding. Last week,
the Pole Road at Hatteras Inlet and the South Point Road on Ocracoke
were closed. Ramps 44 and 45 at Cape Point were closed, as was
the Interdunal Road.
Some businesses and residences in Rodanthe
and Buxton were damaged, but, overall the islands are in good shape and
ready for visitors.
A minor northeast blow is expected to bring
some wind and a chance of rain Sunday and Monday, but then the weather
is expected to clear.
17, 2009 8:45
Dare County preliminary estimate for storm damage is $5.2 million
The coastal storm that lingered over the Outer Banks last week resulted
in coastal property damage, flooding of roadways and ground elevation
structures, and extensive beach erosion.
The preliminary total of damage countywide is $5.2 million.
Most of the oceanfront damage from Duck south to Buxton was caused by
wave action and loss of protective dunes. Flooding of roadways and
ground elevation structures was due to a combination of heavy rains and
Portions of Highway 12 north of Rodanthe buckled because of the
loss of protective dunes over the extended days of punishing high
tides. Hatteras village experienced soundside flooding but
fortunately was spared property damage. Some scouring of dunes
occurred in the Frisco area but also without property loss.
Damage estimates do not include any loss of land due to beach erosion
or costs for debris removal, or in most cases, sand removal. As
noted below, some towns have not included flood damage or accessory
structure damage in their estimates at this point.
On Hatteras Island, no houses were destroyed, but houses were damaged in Rodanthe and Buxton.
In Rodanthe, 12 houses had major damage and seven had minor damage. Ten of the houses are not habitable.
In Buxton, three houses had major damage and 12 had minor damage. All damaged houses are habitable.
Three residences in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head were destroyed in
this storm and an additional 312 structures, mostly residences, were
damaged. Most of the damaged residences were single family rental
properties, with generally minor damage to heat pumps, decks, stairs,
and pools. The residences with major damage include those that
remain in the tide and those that sustained major structural
damage. Seventy-one of the structures with both minor and major
damage are uninhabitable, and an undetermined number of those may not
be able to obtain the permits necessary to be re-occupied. Two
motels in Buxton sustained major damage and several other businesses
and town properties reported minor damage.
17, 2009 8:00
One lane of Highway 12 opens to all traffic ….WITH
The North Carolina Department of Transportation opened one lane of
Highway 12 north of Rodanthe to two-way traffic at 3 p.m. today. The
road has been closed since Friday, Nov. 13, because of ocean overwash
from last week's coastal storm.
The department has put stone over the broken pavement in the southbound
lane to accommodate traffic. A temporary portable traffic signal will
be in place late today to direct traffic through this section. Law
enforcement is currently on the scene to direct traffic. Motorists
should expect slow downs through this area.
About 800 feet of the highway was seriously damaged and undermined at
the S-curves and Mirlo Beach by days of pounding by heavy surf.
A sand route around the damaged roadway opened on Sunday, but it was
open only to four-wheel drive vehicles.
This morning, Gov. Beverly Perdue made a trip to the S-curves and declared a state of emergency on Hatteras Island in order to
get more resources to repair the roadway.
Allen Russell, DOT highway engineer for Dare, Hyde, and Currituck
counties, said the governor “told us to get that road
And they did.
“I was stunned,” said Allen Burrus of Hatteras,
vice chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, about the
speed at which the DOT crews worked. “I was
impressed. I was standing there at 10 a.m. this morning, and
I wouldn’t have bet money that they could do it.”
Russell said DOT will continue to work to reinforce the dune and keep
the ocean back, which could be a bigger problem with increasing
northeast winds this week.
Meanwhile Russell said he thinks the one lane with the stop lights will
work well until the road is completely repaired.
“In the summertime, it would be different,” he
said, “but this will work.”
Jerry Jennings, DOT’s Division 1 engineer, said that the
newly repaired highway will be shifted about 25 feet to the west, but
will remain within the right of way.
“It will give us just a little more room,” he said.
Jennings said surveying was done yesterday, and design and alignment
work was underway today. The repair of the asphalt, he said, will be
contracted soon when all the details are worked out with the corridor.
Jennings wasn’t ready to venture a guess on when two-way
traffic on an asphalt road would resume. It depends, he said,
on high tide and weather.
Meanwhile, islanders were breathing a sigh of relief that supplies
started flowing back to the island today.
The DOT ferry division began running emergency ferries from Stumpy
Point to Rodanthe this morning, and the first two ferries were jammed
with supply trucks, as was the one-lane road when it opened to all
traffic this afternoon.
The grocery shelves on the island were getting bare after five days of
a closed highway, and fuel was running low at gas stations.
“I got milk and chickens and other stuff,” said
Allen Burrus, the commissioner, who also owns Burrus Red &
White Supermarket in Hatteras village. “The shelves
are in good shape."
Burrus also has been running his pickup truck to Manteo to bring back
as many supplies as he could.
“You do what you have to do,” he said.
“In the past, I’ve run boats up there to pick up
Now that traffic is restored on Highway 12 to all vehicles, the Ferry
Division has ended its emergency runs. The Stumpy Point to
Rodanthe ferry made its last runs late this afternoon.
Also the ferries from Swan Quarter and Cedar Island will resume their
regular schedule on Wednesday. Tolls and reservations will also be
For further information on ferry operations and schedules, visit
www.ncferry.org or call 1-800-293-3779 (1-800-BY-FERRY).
Dare County emergency management says that the one lane of traffic is
open for all vehicles, including trucks and non four-wheel drive
automobiles. It will be available 24 hours per day and
replaces the temporary four wheel drive lane that has been in use since
Passage on the one lane opening today is subject to the
following conditions –
• Travel is one lane
only. Be prepared to wait for oncoming traffic to clear.
• Travel may be restricted due
to weather, construction, or emergency vehicles.
• The area a half mile mile
north and south to the entrance of the one lane area has been declared
a work zone. No parking is permitted in this area.
16, 2009 7:20
STORM UPDATE ….. Ferries will run between Stumpy
Point and Rodanthe ..…WITH VIDEO By IRENE
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
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 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
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
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.
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.
15, 2009 7:45
STORM UPDATE.... Alternate
route around Highway 12 damage now open, while DOT
continues to assess damage
....WITH NEW SLIDE SHOW AND VIDEO
Hatteras Island continues to be under a declared State of
Emergency, and Highway 12 remains closed to regular traffic north of
However, the North Carolina Department of Transportation opened a
special one-lane travel route for four-wheel drive vehicles only at 11
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
And the alternate route will be a available 24 hours a day -- a change
to the previously announced policy of restricting it to daylight
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
His most optimistic guess at this point is “several
Meanwhile, he said Highway 12 on Ocracoke had been cleared.
And serious soundside flooding in Frisco, Hatteras, and Ocracoke was
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
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
• 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
• Travel will be allowed 24
hours a day, a departure from the earlier announced policy of daylight
• 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.
Highway 12 is seriously damaged at S-curves and remains closed ….WITH
SLIDE SHOWS AND VIDEO
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
news headlines from today:
Significant soundside flooding continued in Frisco, Hatteras village,
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.)
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.
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
the worst damage I’ve ever seen in this area,” 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
A significant part of the highway was washed away and undermined then
and had to be rebuilt over a period of several weeks.
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.
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.
challenge of restoring traffic is at the mercy of Mother
Nature,” Jennings said.
working to restore transportation as quickly as possible,”
Russell said. “We haven’t given up yet.”
think DOT will look at every available option,” added Dorothy
Toolan, Dare County spokesperson.
among the options under consideration is providing a four-wheel drive
only route through the area until the highway can be repaired.
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
any event, it seems likely that access will be restored to emergency
and four-wheel drive vehicles before it is restored to the general
folks who need to travel to and from Hatteras can do it via Ocracoke
and the Swan Quarter ferry.
Burrus, vice chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners and
owner of Burrus Red & White Supermarket in Hatteras village,
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.
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
flooding was receding this evening – very slowly.
That is also reminiscent of Hurricane Dennis.
rumor mill has always worked overtime in our small communities but it
was really revved up today, aided by Facebook. It used to
little longer for island legends to make the rounds.
is a roundup of some news items that might set straight some of
what’s out there:
County spokesperson Dorothy Toolan said there are no plans now to start
running ferries between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point. However,
infrastructure is in place to do that and the ferry basins were
recently dredged should that ferry route be needed in an emergency.
county Web cam at Mirlo Beach has been down because of an Internet
problem, Toolan said. Work is underway to restore the
highway is not “gone” north of Rodanthe nor has
miles” been wiped out. Again, 700 to 800 feet had been
of this morning.
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
there is also a high chance of rip currents.
County Emergency Management and DOT will reassess the situation on the
will bring you news as soon as we get it and separate fact from fiction.
falls on islands battered by the ocean and sound …WITH
Weather Channel is calling it Atlantic Assault. Some locals
calling it the Veteran’s Day Storm, since it started winding
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
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.
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,
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
“Hopefully, tomorrow, if the ocean calms down we can get in
there,” Russell said. “I am hopeful, but I had
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
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,
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
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
the ocean in South Nags Head last night, and several others are still
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
the storm “Nor’Ida.”
Before the weekend is out, we hope it will be out of here.
of Emergency declared on Hatteras Island …WITH
County’s Emergency Control Group declared a state of
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
coastal flooding from the Atlantic Ocean has not been as kind. Seas
have been running 10 to 15 feet and battering the shoreline.
12 is closed from The Bonner Bridge, through Pea Island, and into
northern Rodanthe – at Mirlo Beach, of course.
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
many as seven times in the refuge and flattened some dunes near the
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.
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
now by astronomically higher tides during the new moon.
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.
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.
12 on the northern end of Ocracoke is also officially closed, according
to Hyde County spokeswoman, Jamie Tunnell.
Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry has been suspended, and there is no word on
when it might resume. For updated ferry information, call
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
only to residents and property owners.
are posting two slide shows from yesterday afternoon's high tide,
and will update this story with more photos late this afternoon or
you have photos of the stormy seas or ocean or sound flooding, please
send them to [email protected].
We will post more photos from readers later today or tomorrow.
Heavy rain and
high seas lash Hatteras and Ocracoke islands
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.
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.
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
By 3 p.m.
it was closed again to all vehicles.
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.
minor weather event on Nov. 3 and 4 washed the sand off the
“dune” at the S-curves, flattening the area and
Russell said in a telephone interview this afternoon, there was not
much sand left to wash into the highway with the pounding
Waves were breaking directly onto the road, which made cleaning up the
highway between high tides easier for the DOT employees –
sand to scrape off the road!
has a small army of employees with trucks and front-end loaders
on northern Hatteras Island to clean the road off as quickly as
possible between high tides.
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.
Park Service ranger David Carter said that Cape Point was totally
overwashed in this afternoon’s high tide. Also, he
both the Pole Road at Hatteras Inlet and South Point Road on Ocracoke
were closed. The Pole Road had not only standing rainwater
also tidal overwash from both the ocean and the sound.
seashore and the highway will fare no better tomorrow, weather
low pressure area that is causing the trouble is very slow
moving. This morning it was off the coast of Cape
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
the storm was not expected to move much overnight, but would start
heading out to sea by the weekend.
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.
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
at 4 p.m.
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.
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
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.
say “buckets” because the total rainfall for Nov.
according to the Weather Service, was 3.45 inches on Hatteras and 3.41
on Ocracoke. On Hatteras, the rainfall was measured at the
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
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.
continue to send us your photos of the stormy seas and overwash, and we
will publish a slide show tomorrow. Send photos to [email protected].
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
here to see PowerPoint presentation of weather forecast from
earlier to today from the National Weather Service.
November 11, 2009
coastal storm forecast to bring coastal flooding and heavy rain
By IRENE NOLAN
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
as a “wicked” coastal low is predicted to bring
heavy surf, and coastal flooding along the Outer Banks –
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
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
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
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
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
Weather Service, which predicted “significant”
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
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
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
“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
The seas will gradually subside.
The Island Free Press welcomes readers to send their storm photos to
us. E-mail to [email protected].
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.