October 28, 2012

UPDATE: Hurricane Sandy assaults Hatteras and
Ocracoke from all sides….WITH SLIDE SHOW


As dawn was breaking this Sunday morning, the high tide, driven by Hurricane Sandy’s huge waves, was flattening dunes and sending sand and water on Highway 12 on both Hatteras and Ocracoke.

And, then the assault began on the backside of the islands.  By daylight, Hatteras and Ocracoke villages were underwater, soon to be followed by Frisco.  In the afternoon’s waning light, soundside storm surge started in Buxton and Avon.

All of this, and, as of 5 p.m., the monster storm named Sandy, part tropical and part northeaster, was still 270 miles southeast of Buxton.

According to the National Weather Service office in Buxton, we have another day of tropical storm conditions to endure – winds forecast to be sustained at 40 to 50 mph again with gusts to 70.  Tomorrow night, winds are still predicted to be 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 55.

The winds and heavy seas will keep the ocean overwash coming and the sound storm surge up in the villages for another day or two.

Here is the summary of what we know from today:

  • Winds blew at sustained speeds of 45 to 50 mph with gusts to 70
  • Ocean overwash send sand and water onto Highway 12, which is closed from the Bonner Bridge to Rodanthe.
  • There was also heavy ocean overwash at high tide at the motels in north Buxton and between Frisco and Hatteras village. The overwash subsided at low tide north of Buxton, but the highway between Frisco and Hatteras remained pretty much impassable because of soundside flooding.
  • From about the Frisco Pier to Hatteras village, the ocean storm surge met the soundside storm surge, and the area was awash in flood water.  As far as anyone knows now, there are no new breaches or inlets.
  • One house has collapsed in northern Mirlo Beach.
  • According to the evening bulletin from Dare County Emergency Management, Highway 12 has been compromised in the northbound lane near Mirlo Beach and the southbound lane just south of the new Pea Island Inlet.
  • According to a new release from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet was closed this evening after inspectors determined that the bridge was unsafe.  Divers and inspectors will resume inspection of the bridge as soon as conditions allow.  Allen Burrus of Hatteras, vice-chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, said he was told that a railing on top of the bridge had come loose and was flapping in the wind.  It could be as simple as a rusted railing, but inspectors will be sure that other issues such as settling of the bridge did not loosen the railing. Burrus added that the bridge is inspected anyway after major storms.
  • The ferries have not been running to and from Ocracoke since Saturday.
  • The rainfall has been unrelenting since early Saturday morning.  There was a 6-hour total today of 6 inches of rain at Billy Mitchell Airport in Frisco. The total could be twice that.
  • Hatteras village lost power this afternoon, and it won’t be restored until tomorrow morning.

Hurricane Sandy has certainly been a challenge to residents and visitors to Hatteras and Ocracoke.  There have been no evacuations and Highway 12 was open yesterday, so new visitors checked into rental houses.

As the huge hybrid storm continues its slow trek northeast and then northwest into the coast somewhere around New Jersey late tomorrow, we will continue to see wind, rain, heavy seas, rip currents, and coastal flooding on the islands.

NCDOT has equipment on northern and southern Hatteras and on Ocracoke and crews work around the clock when they can to try to clear the highway. However, it could still be a few days until the surge stops inundating the highway and there can be a true assessment of the damage to the roadbed.

Click here to see slide show.
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Previous stories about Hurricane Sandy

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