storm and coastal low could threaten temporary power lines
at the Cape
Hatteras Electric Cooperative are keeping their fingers crossed late
this week and into the weekend as swells from Tropical Storm Maria and
a coastal trough that will form behind a cold front bring heavy seas to
an already damaged area on northern Hatteras Island.
New New Inlet was cut by Hurricane Irene on Aug. 27 in the Pea Island
National Wildlife Refuge, severing Hatteras Island and taking out parts
of Highway 12 at the inlet and several smaller breaches.
The southern shoreline of the inlet continues to erode, and took a
beating last week in heavy seas and large breaking waves churned up
when Hurricane Katia passed well offshore of the Outer Banks.
At one point, according to CHEC, the inlet was eroding at five to six
feet a day in the area where the power provider had erected temporary
structures to carry the 115kV transmission lines across the inlet and
down to the villages of Hatteras and Ocracoke.
CHEC said that the temporary structure on the south side of New New
Inlet was 90 feet from the water when it was installed about a week
after the storm. Today cooperative officials said the poles were now
just 40 feet from the still eroding south shore of the cut.
CHEC and North Carolina Department of Transportation crews are working
together to protect the power lines, and a photo taken this morning
shows the southern structure surrounded by sandbags.
The area where the poles have been erected and where NCDOT is
working on a temporary bridge across the inlet took a beating in Katia
last week. Water pouring onto the sand road that had been
restored at the S-curves north of Rodanthe brought road work to a halt
for a day or so.
Today and tonight, the coast will be affected by a lesser swell from
Tropical Storm Maria’s passage – again well offshore of the Outer Banks
and closer to Bermuda.
This afternoon, Maria’s winds were 70 mph and the storm was moving
quickly off to the northeast. The swells will peak tonight, forecasters
say, at about 4 to 5 feet.
However, tonight a strong cold front will pass offshore, bringing an
extended stretch of cooler, drizzly weather.
A strong high pressure will build over the northeastern U.S. and wedge
down into the Carolinas through the weekend as a coastal low pressure
area forms offshore. The pressure gradient between the high to the
north and the offshore low will bring strong winds from the northeast
and high seas at least until Monday.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Newport, N.C.,
are predicting northeast winds of 15-25 knots and 7- to 10-foot seas
Saturday and Sunday, perhaps lingering into next week.
This morning CHEC sent an e-mail to county officials and the media,
saying that the cooperative was concerned that the temporary structures
might be “compromised” because of weather conditions and further
erosion at the inlet.
“CHEC continues to closely monitor the temporarily restored 115kV
transmission line at the breach points near Pea Island,” the e-mail
said. “Wave action from Hurricane Katia last week caused
significant erosion and growth of the inlet and breach points where
temporary transmission structures have been placed.
increased wind and swell forecasts for this weekend, CHEC stands ready
to provide emergency power to the island in the event that the
temporary repair is compromised by the eroding inlet.”
CHEC said it could use the Buxton and Ocracoke diesel generation
plants, along with the two 2-megawatt Caterpillar generators located in
the tri-villages, to provide power if there is a problem with the
“However,” the e-mail continued, “CHEC cannot guarantee all Hatteras
Island villages continuous emergency power due to the increased numbers
of residents and homeowners, and the anticipated influx of non-resident
visitors this weekend.”
All of the villages on Hatteras and Ocracoke were on emergency
generator power for about a week after the hurricane, but that was
before residents who evacuated and non-resident property owners were
allowed to return.
The temporary transmission lines took over the load and began bringing
in power from the north late on Monday, Sept. 5.
CHEC says that it continues to work with NCDOT to formulate a permanent
restoration plan for the 115kV transmission