January 21, 2016
UPDATED: Outer Banks should be spared
worst of strong, wintry northeaster
By IRENE NOLAN
at 5:00 p.m. to add high surf and wind advisories for Outer Banks and
link to National Weather Service PowerPoint on the weekend storm.)
It looks as if the Outer Banks will be spared the ice and snow that is
forecast for north and west of the area from tomorrow into Sunday
morning as a major winter storm deepens just off the North
Carolina coast and moves quickly northeast.
However, according to the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead
City, N.C., the Outer Banks could get walloped with heavy rains, gusty
winds and minor to moderate beach erosion and coastal flooding on both
the oceanside and soundside of the islands.
The Weather Service said on Thursday afternoon that models are in good
agreement that a low pressure area over the Gulf Coast states on Friday
will dissipate and a new low will spin up off the South Carolina coast
Friday evening. The new low is forecast to pass near eastern North
Carolina Friday night and then race off to the northeast on Saturday.
This afternoon, the Weather Service issued both high surf and high wind advisories for the Outer Banks.
The wind advisory is in effect from 5 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m.
Saturday. Winds are forecast at 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 to
The high surf advisory is in effect from 7 p.m. Friday until 10 a.m.
Saturday. Breaking waves of 7 to 10 feet are expected, along with
the threat of dangerous shorebreak, rip currents, and beach erosion.
Gale warnings are in effect for all coastal waters.
Precipitation is expected to begin late Thursday night into early
Friday when temperatures will be at or near freezing inland. A
period of sleet and freezing rain mix is possible inland, and a winter
weather advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. Friday for areas basically
along and west of Highway 17.
The precipitation is expected to begin as rain along the coast around 8
a.m. Friday. During the afternoon and Friday night, the rain
could be heavy at times, with 1 to 3 inches possible. On Saturday
night, wrap around snow is possible, as the winds shift to the
northwest and colder air moves in -- again snow is more likely north
and west of the Outer Banks. There is a slight chance of some leftover
snow showers along the northern Outer Banks early Sunday.
As the low approaches Friday, strong southeast winds will develop along
the coast, especially the Outer Banks. The strong winds will build seas
to 10 to 16 feet over coastal waters Friday night through Saturday
There may be a lull in the winds late Friday into Saturday. However,
the Weather Service says that strong west to northwest winds will
develop late Saturday into Saturday night on the backside of the low.
Another wind advisory may be issued for Saturday night when winds are
currently forecast at 25 to 35 mph from the northwest with gusts at 45
High surf, beach erosion, and minor to moderate coastal flooding are
possible, with the greatest threat over the Outer Banks. The
Weather Service said this afternoon that at some point, coast flood
watches or warnings may be necessary. Flooding will transition from the
oceanside on Friday night to the soundside late Saturday and Saturday
Water levels 2 to 4 feet above normal are possible along the coast
north of Cape Hatteras and 1 to 3 feet above normal on the sounds.
Though the Outer Banks forecast doesn't sound much worse than your
average northeaster, the story is different along the mid-Atlantic
coast from Virginia north and inland over North Carolina and the
mountains. In those areas, historic snowfalls and blizzard conditions
"While impacts here in Dare should be minor," Drew Pearson, director of
county emergency management, said in an advisory last night, "other
parts of the state are bracing for a winter storm that will make
travel difficult. The same holds true for Virginia and
other northeastern states. If you do need to travel please
exercise caution, make sure you have
winter survival gear with you and check
the weather before you head out."
However, as usual, the forecast comes down to the fact that snow is
notoriously difficult to predict and the forecast could change with
just a minor movement of the low pressure more to the west or east as
it passes along the coast.
To check the latest forecasts and keep up with advisories, watches, and
warning, go to the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City
website at www.weather.gov/mhx.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
to see a presentation by the National Weather Service in
Newport/Morehead City on the coastal storm that is expected to affect
the Outer Banks from Friday, Jan. 22, into Sunday, Jan. 24.