August 23, 2011 Facebook TwitterMore...



UPDATE: Hurricane Irene takes aim on eastern North Carolina

By IRENE NOLAN

Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a Category 1 storm at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, but it is still forecast to strengthen again and perhaps reach Category 3 as it aims for the North Carolina coast.

Eastern North Carolina is in the crosshairs of the National Hurricane Center’s cone of probability today, perhaps coming ashore on Saturday.

Despite the consensus of models, which bring the storm very close to Cape Hatteras, the Hurricane Center warns that its forecast models this far from landfall can be 200 to 300 miles in error.

Several models take the storm offshore of Cape Hatteras, and the trend in the models over the past few days has been to move the track farther east.

As of the 5 p.m. update, the storm was back down to 90 miles an hour, but it was forecast to strengthen as it pulls away from Hispaniola and rakes the Bahamas. It was moving west-northwest at 9 mph.

Forecasters still say upper level conditions are perfect for strengthening with little wind shear, and the hurricane will continue to travel over very warm waters.

Hyde County emergency management officials have called for a mandatory evacuation of all visitors to Ocracoke Island, beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning and a mandatory evacuation of residents beginning at 5 a.m. Thursday morning.

Dare County Emergency Operations Committee met at 5 p.m. this afternoon and was briefed on the storm but did not take any action, according to Dorothy Toolan, the county’s public information manager.

Toolan said the group will meet again at 5 p.m. on Wednesday to consider any action for Hatteras Island and the rest of Dare County.

The National Park Service will close its Ocracoke campground and Silver Lake marina at noon on Wednesday, and the visitor center will close at 5 p.m.  Park public information coordinator Cyndy Holda said decisions will be made on seashore beaches and campgrounds and other facilities on Hatteras and Bodie Island on Wednesday.

Swells from the storm are expected to begin reaching Hatteras and Ocracoke on Wednesday, and the National Weather Service says there will be an elevated risk of rip currents beginning Wednesday night.

Rental companies are beginning to prepare the renters currently in cottages for a possible evacuation and get their houses that are empty ready for the storm.

All of the major companies have updates on their websites with advice to both current visitors and those expecting to arrive this weekend. At least one company is telling renters to prepare tomorrow for a possible evacuation on Thursday.

The companies are being flooded with inquires from visitors who are coming in for next week’s rentals.  Their advice is only to stay abreast of information on their sites and from the news media on the progress of the storm.

If there is an evacuation on Hatteras, it is unlikely that the weekend renters could arrive before Sunday, and even that depends of the storm’s track and how much damage it causes on Hatteras and Ocracoke and Highway 12.


MORE INFORMATION ON OCRACOKE EVACUATION

There will be state of emergency declared for Ocracoke and the Hyde County mainland, effective at 5 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24.

A mandatory evacuation has been issued for all visitors to Ocracoke and a voluntary evacuation has been issued for all residents of Ocracoke beginning at 5 a.m. on Wednesday.

There will be a mandatory evacuation for residents on Ocracoke, beginning at 5 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 25.

During the state of emergency, the North Carolina Ferry Division will be on a first-come, first -served basis for all vehicles going to Hatteras, Swan Quarter, and Cedar Island, pending road conditions in those receiving counties. Schedules and toll collections are suspended during the evacuation order.

Emergency services, government agencies, commercial vendors delivering essential groceries and supplies, and permanent residential traffic as indicated by purple and green stickers will be allowed to travel to Ocracoke on Wednesday, Aug. 24, only via air and ferry or boat. Local and state law enforcement may restrict access without appropriate credentials.



 Comments are always welcomed!


     Subject :

     Name :  (required)

     Email :  (required, will not be published)

     City :   (required)    State :   (required)

     Your Comments:

May be posted on the Letters to the Editor page at the discretion of the editor.