December 8, 2014
Today was the day that a relatively minor coastal storm hit Hatteras with a major punch.
UPDATE: Coastal storm pounds Hatteras,
cuts communication...WITH SLIDE SHOW
By IRENE NOLAN
storm that started winding up early Sunday morning was not particularly
remarkable -- north to northeast winds sustained at 30 to 40 mph with
gusts to 50 and seas peaking at 15 to 17 feet.
morning, as it moved past Hatteras, the storm sent the raging ocean
cascading through the dunes and across Highway 12 from Cape Hatteras
The motels and houses in north Buxton were pounded,
though the road was never closed there and commuters slowly moved
through the saltwater. Northern Rodanthe took a beating, up to
four reported dune breaches sent the water and sand over the highway on
Pea Island, and the Pea Island Inlet Bridge was said to have been an
island surrounded by surging water.
About 8:45 a.m., the North
Carolina Department of Transportation closed Highway 12 from the
Bonner Bridge to the S-curves north of Rodanthe because of sand and
high water on Pea Island, especially the northern end at the "canal"
And, finally, around 9:30 a.m., the storm surge caused a
break in the fiber-optic cable that runs beside the highway on Pea
That took down Internet and cell phone service
on the entire island, and some land lines, especially in the Frisco
area, were also not working.
Until 4 p.m. when hard-working
crews miraculously found and repaired the break in the fiber-optic and
DOT got the roads cleaned up, life was like the old days on Hatteras
Island -- no highway off, no Internet, no cell phones, no e-mail, no
texting, and, in some cases, no phones at all.
To say it was a strange day would be an understatement.
Brian Cullen, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Newport,
N.C. agreed that the coastal storm was not particularly a monster.
It wasn't all that windy, we've seen much higher seas, and we were not even in an astronomically high tide cycle.
got us, he said, was the long duration of the persistent north and
northeast winds. And, of course, this comes with the severe beach
erosion that in some areas puts the highway and homes and businesses at
"There won't be much change until after daybreak
tomorrow," Cullen said. After the morning high tide around 9:30
a.m., the wind and seas will begin to subside.
The ocean pounded
the island again tonight and will again Tuesday when there will be an
astronomically higher tide in the morning.
The Weather Service
has extended the coastal flood advisory until 11 Tuesday morning
and the high surf advisory until 2 in the afternoon.
were open today on Hatteras Island because once the children got to
school, communications went down and parents couldn't be notified to
pick them up. Phones in the schools were not working.
spent the afternoon at the doctor's office in Avon. I called to
make the appointment about 8:45 a.m. and heard from a friend who
answered the phone about the exciting trip she had to work through
north Buxton this morning.
Then my phones went dead, and the
Internet went down. My land line was one that didn't work, and I
felt too under the weather -- so to speak -- to drive around to see
what was happening -- though I figured the fiber-optic had probably
been cut somewhere. I did not talk to another person until I walked
into the doctor's office shortly after 2 p.m.
When I drove up to
Avon, the overwash in north Buxton had ended and only a little sand
remained on the road. Even when I drove home after 5, there was
no surge yet from the evening's high tide.
When I got home, my phone was brimming with messages.
One of them made me smile.
Irene, this is Richard Marlin," said the Frisco fire chief. "You
don't have to call me back, but I just wanted to know if you are going
to write about the day that people actually had to talk to each other
on Hatteras Island?"
That might seems like a strange question,
but, then, it was a very strange day here with no e-mail or texting for
all and no phoning for many. Imagine it -- no Facebook! If you
wanted to talk to people, you actually had to go find them and talk TO
My colleague Donna Barnett tried to call her husband at
his job site. When she realized what was happening, she wondered how
she got a message to him in the old days. She guesses that she
got in the car and drove over there.
Sure seems like a long time
ago, but a lot of folks on Hatteras were right there today. Most us,
though, were probably too rattled to enjoy it or to chuckle at the
After getting my fill of antibiotics at the doctor's
office, I am hoping to feel better tomorrow -- and to have a phone to
make calls and an Internet to send e-mail.
We're sorry about this brief report tonight, and we hope to do better tomorrow.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDE SHOW