November 20, 2012

The ocean’s assault on northern Hatteras continues


The sun tried to break through the low clouds this morning, but only succeeded intermittently.  The winds died down somewhat, but now, in the late afternoon, the strong wind from the north/northeast is buffeting us again.

The four-wheel-drive route around the S-curves in northern Rodanthe was closed shortly after 10 this morning as high tide approached and did not reopen until 4:30 this afternoon.

Island Free Press photographer Don Bowers shot more video and photographs today at the S-curves.  He hiked out to the overwashed roadbed – carefully – and shot the video as the ocean rushed in around him.

Before he stopped filming, a Dare County Sheriff’s Department Hummer came through the flooded four-wheel-drive route and actually floated for several seconds on its way to the other side.

You will also notice in the video that the damaged roadbed is actually acting as a bulkhead to absorb some of the energy as wave after wave pounds the shoreline.

Obviously, the North Carolina Department of Transportation still can’t do anything to repair Highway 12 in the area.  DOT officials and crews are just waiting for the assault to stop, so they can figure out how much beach, if any, is left between the road and the ocean.

The National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., said today that the assault is not over yet.

Meteorologist Tom Lonka said we will see a break in the heavy winds tonight and tomorrow as a very complex low pressure area continues to move out into the ocean well east of the Outer Banks.  In other words, we can expect breezy conditions tonight and tomorrow instead of gale force winds.

The high seas will be slow to respond to the drop off in the wind and will remain in the 6- to 11- foot range.

However, the gale force winds may well be back Wednesday night into Thanksgiving Day, Lonka noted.

He said another low pressure will form well offshore.  The pressure gradient between the new low and high pressure to the north could have the winds gusting to 40 mph during Thanksgiving dinner.

And seas will be back up to 10 to 13 feet.

There is only a slight chance of rain on Thanksgiving with the new onslaught, Lonka said.

We will have another brief break on Friday as winds shift southwest, but then a cold front will move through on Saturday, bringing even cooler weather and gusty northwest winds.

Northwest winds, he said, will allow the seas to slowly subside, and he added that winds should not be strong enough to cause soundside flooding.

The Weather Service will end the high surf advisory at 10 p.m. tonight and the coastal flood advisory at 5 a.m. in the morning.

But then they could be back on Thursday.

Also today, Allen Burrus of Hatteras village, vice-chairman of the dare County Board of Commissioners, said he continues to be encouraged by reports that he has heard from a meeting yesterday between DOT and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials to reach a solution to the problems that plague Highway 12 at the S-curves.

Several options were discussed, he said, but no decisions made.  Burrus, who pushed for the meeting, is just happy that both sides are talking longer term solutions.

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