Joaquin headed out to sea, but coastal flooding still a threat
Forecasters at the National Hurricane
Center, who for several days wrestled with models that brought
powerful Category 4 Joaquin ashore along the U.S. East Coast, said
today they were feeling confident that the storm would head out to
By IRENE NOLAN
Residents, visitors, and emergency
managers on the Outer Banks are breathing a big sigh of relief, but
we're not in the clear yet. Hatteras and Ocracoke islands are in for
more heavy rain and punishing surf between now and Monday.
"There's an upper low, a
northeaster-type low, that would have affected us anyway, even
without Joaquin," Jim Merrell, a meteorologist at the National
Weather Service Office in Newport, N.C., said this afternoon.
At the 2 p.m. advisory, Hurricane
Joaquin was still pounding the Bahamas. It was located 10 miles
north of Rum Cay and moving ever so slowly north at 5 mph with winds
of 130 mph and barometric pressure at 942 mb.
The storm's winds are expected to peak
on Saturday at 140 mph as it heads north and northeast out into the
Atlantic, passing the Outer Banks well offshore on Sunday into
Monday. At this point, forecasters say there is little or no chance
that the storm will track back toward the East Coast.
Meanwhile, an upper level low over the
southeast coast, a cold front just offshore, and a heap of tropical
moisture have combined to bring heavy rains to the area yesterday and
The National Weather Service has issued
a coastal flood warning and a high surf advisory that are in effect
until 8 p.m. on Monday north of Cape Hatteras.
Two to 4 inches of rain are forecast
today on the Outer Banks, and Merrell said we may get a brief respite
on Saturday before more heavy rains develop over the region as the
low moves off the coast Sunday into Monday, dragging a cold front
behind it. Another 1 to 3 inches are possible.
The winds, which have been only breezy
from the northeast today, will pick up Sunday into Monday as the
pressure gradient tightens between the coastal low and a high to the
north and are forecast to blow from the northeast at 20 to 30, with
perhaps some gusts to 40 mph.
A combination of the northeast winds
and swell from Joaquin will whip up the seas to as high as 15 to 20
feet north of Hatteras, resulting in minor to moderate beach erosion
and ocean overwash, especially in vulnerable spots on Highway 12 and
at times of high tide, which are in the afternoon over the weekend.
The Weather Service warns that there is
also a high threat of rip currents and dangerous breaking waves. Dare
County recommends staying out of the ocean.
The Weather Service's Merrell said
today that no soundside flooding is currently anticipated for
Hatteras and Ocracoke.
Dare County's Control Group met
yesterday and again this morning when they decided that an evacuation
was not necessary.
Hyde County's Control Group issued a
mandatory evacuation for Ocracoke Island yesterday, which remains in
effect for all but residents.
The National Park Service closed its
campgrounds, visitor centers, and lighthouses yesterday, and closed
ramps to off-road vehicles at 5 p.m. today.
Emergency managers and weather
forecasters says that residents and visitors should stay informed on
local weather forecasts and road conditions.
the most up to date information regarding road conditions along
Highway 12, visit the NCDOT NC 12 Facebook Page at
facebook.com/NCDOT. For other road conditions, call 1-877-DOT-4YOU or
1-877-638-4968, or dial 511.
For the latest weather updates,
warning, watches, and advisories, go the local Weather Service
website at www.weather.gov/mhx.