January 22, 2016

A windy, wet weekend for Hatteras and Ocracoke


Some mainland areas west of Hatteras and Ocracoke were being pummeled with light sleet, freezing rain, and even some snow this morning, but as of mid-day, the islands hadn't seen even a drop of rain.

The rain will move in this afternoon, however, and the winds will pick up to gale force, threatening both Hatteras and Ocracoke with high surf and possible beach erosion and minor coastal flooding until Sunday morning -- with flooding possible on both the oceanside and soundside of the islands.

The Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City, N.C., said on Friday that a low pressure area in the southeast brought this morning's wintry weather to inland areas of the state. Far inland, toward Raleigh, Charlotte, and into the mountains, the snow is expected to be heavy enough before the weekend ends that the governor has declared a state of emergency and the Department of Transportation and emergency services are geared up.

The low pressure will move along the North Carolina coast Friday night and then race off to the northeast on Saturday. Blizzard warnings are posted for areas of the mid-Atlantic, where historic snowfalls are possible.

Those of us on the Outer Banks, however, will see pretty much a run-of-the-mill northeaster, unless there are big changes in the forecast.

The National Weather Service is predicting somewhat lesser amounts of rain than yesterday.  The forecasters say we can expect 1 to 2 inches, with higher amounts possible in isolated areas.  The heaviest rain will be later Friday night and early Saturday morning.

And, this morning, the Weather Service said there is even a chance -- although only marginal -- for an isolated severe thunderstorm on Hatteras or Ocracoke this evening.

Winds are also expected to pick up from the southeast later this afternoon.

A 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 50 mph.

A high surf advisory is also 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.

A coastal flood watch is in effect from Saturday evening until Sunday morning.

Gale warnings are in effect for all coastal waters until 10 a.m. on Sunday.

The strong winds will build seas to 10 to 15 feet over coastal waters Friday night through Saturday night.  

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 on the backside of the low late Saturday into Saturday night.

John Cole, warning coordination meteorologist at the Weather Service, said this morning another wind advisory for the Outer Banks is very likely to be issued for Saturday night into early Sunday when winds are forecast at 25 to 35 mph from the northwest with gusts at 45 to 50.
High surf, beach erosion, and minor coastal flooding are possible, with the greatest threat over the northern Outer Banks, north of Oregon Inlet, where coastal flooding may be more moderate -- water levels in the range of 2 to 4 feet above  normal, especially at Sunday morning's high tide at about 6 a.m.

Minor to moderate soundside flooding is also possible, though the threat is lower for southern Hatteras and Ocracoke than the northern Outer Banks.

The Weather Service is also forecasting snow showers late Saturday into Sunday night as the low moves away from the Outer Banks and the cold air pours in from the northwest.

Accumulations of less than an inch are possible north and west of the Outer Banks, though the Weather Service is not expecting problems with roads that will be wet and warmer from the rain.

Snow showers are possible on the northern Outer Banks, but Cole said Hatteras and Ocracoke will probably not see any snow at all.

However, as usual, it all 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. Updates are also posted on the NWS Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity/?fref=ts


Click here 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.

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