November 26, 2015

Driving to Cape Point not prohibited,
but not recommended

By IRENE NOLAN



The National Park Service this morning lifted the prohibition on driving off-road vehicle route to Cape Point,  but posted signs that travel on the badly eroded beach is not recommended.

"Overnight the condition improved very slightly, allowing the sloped beach below the high-tide line and escarpment to be at slightly less of an angle," Hatteras Island district ranger Joe Darling said on Thursday morning.

"We are past the full moon.  However, waves and tides are still quite high," he added.

Darling warns especially that drivers who travel to the Point at low tide, which is around 1:30 p.m. today, may not be able to return at high tide, which is about 7:30 p.m.

There are two severely eroded areas with escarpments -- carved out areas.  One is between Ramp 43 and Ramp 44, and the other is in the area of the Narrows between Ramp 44 and Cape Point.

Ramp 44 remains closed because of flooding from heavy rains in early October storms and more storms last week. Ramp 43 is the only ramp for vehicles to get access to Cape Point, and, thus drivers must pass both dangerous areas.

A warning is posted on the yellow sign that cautions that the beach may be impassable during times of high tide. It reads:

"Due to a hazardous condition, vehicular travel is not recommended past this location.  Enter at your own risk.  Areas are impassable to vehicles at high tide due to eroded beach conditions.  Vehicles that venture past this location may not be able to safely return during many tide conditions, plan accordingly to return during low tide conditions."

The National Weather Service in Morehead City, N.C., warns that the high seas could persist through the weekend.  Currently, the Weather Service has a small craft advisory for areas from Oregon Inlet to Ocracoke Inlet until 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The Weather Service is not forecasting particularly high winds, but says in its marine forecast that the northeast swell will continue to build because of a broad low pressure far offshore and a Canadian high to the north.  Winds are forecast only at 10 to 15 knots with some gusts to 20, but seas will build to as high as 8 to 10 feet Friday into Saturday. 

The northeast swell, the Weather Service says, could continue into the middle of next week as another strong high builds south from New England.

For more on forecasts and watches and warnings, go to www.weather.gov/mhx/.







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