September 25, 2015

Park Service urges caution on beaches, closes some ramps

The National Park Service is urging visitors to use "extreme caution" on the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore during this weekend's stormy weather.

A persistent area of low pressure to the southeast of Cape Hatteras and a high pressure to the north have combined to produce consistent moderate to strong northeast winds all week.  This onshore flow has brought heavy seas, higher than normal tides, and some beach erosion on the seashore.

The Park Service said this morning that access to Cape Point is closed to driving because of severe erosion and steep sand escarpments along the ORV route.  Ramp 44 is open and the beach is open for approximately a third of a mile south of the ramp.

Closed are:

  • Ramp 49 in Frisco.
  • Ramp 55 in Hatteras village and the Pole Road.
  • Ramp 59 on Ocracoke.
  • Ramp 72 (South Point Road) on Ocracoke.

Currently, Ramp 70 on Ocracoke is open but there is barely any beach there to drive on in either direction.

"We are actively monitoring the beaches to keep as much access open as possible," the park said on its Facebook Page, though additional sections may need to close as they become too hazardous to traverse."

The Park Service also warns swimmers to avoid the water during the rough surf conditions, which are causing a high threat of powerful rip currents.

The National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood advisory and a high surf advisory for the area north of Cape Hatteras until 8 p.m. Sunday.

The high winds and heavy rains are forecast to gradually subside from late Sunday into the first of the week.

"Once sections of beach rebuild and become safe to pass as the storm moves out and the lunar tides recede, we'll reopen those sections," the Park Service says.

Keep up on current conditions on the seashore's Facebook page.

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