February 6, 2016

UPDATE: NWS upgrades watches to
warnings for 'dangerous' coastal storm


The National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City this afternoon upgraded its wind and coastal flood watches to warnings that are in effect from Sunday morning into Monday.

In the afternoon's update, Richard Bandy, meteorologist in charge, said the nasty weather will be caused by a "strong coastal low that will be intensifying off of our coast, resulting in very dangerous conditions."

 "We expect very strong winds and significant coastal flooding that will begin tomorrow morning and could continue to have impacts into Monday on the Outer Banks," Bandy said. "There will also be very dangerous boating conditions with a storm warning in effect for the sounds as well as the coastal waters."

The low will form off the southeast coast on Sunday and rapidly deepen as it moves along the North Carolina coast Sunday afternoon and Sunday night.  Pressures in the storm could drop below 990 millibars, which is equivalent to a tropical system or weak hurricane.

These are the warnings in effect for the Outer Banks.
A high wind warning from 9 a.m. Sunday until 4 a.m. Monday for winds from 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph.

A coastal flood warning from 10 a.m. Sunday until 4 p.m. on Monday for the oceanside from Cape Hatteras north through Kitty Hawk and for soundside locations, especially on southern Hatteras and Ocracoke.

A storm warning for all coastal waters from 7 a.m. Sunday until 7 a.m. Monday in the Pamlico Sound and coastal waters for winds from 35 to 45 knots with gusts to 60 knots. Seas are forecast to reach 12 to 17 feet.

The coastal flooding will be an issue for both oceanside and soundside areas of the islands.  Water levels of 3 to 5 feet above normal are possible.

Impacts on the ocean beach will include storm surge and wave run-up that will peak about the time of high tide Monday morning, which is around 7 a.m.  Large, battering waves will result in overwash and significant erosion. The Weather Service warns that vulnerable structures in the surf zone could be damaged and Highway 12 could become inundated and impassable.

In the early afternoon on Sunday, the northeast winds will become more north and northwest and raise the water levels on the southern Pamlico Sound. Portions of Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras village, and Ocracoke could see water level rises of 1 to 3 feet above ground level.

Up to 1.5 inches of rain is also possible along Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, which were inundated with almost 4 inches of rain Thursday and Friday.  In fact, Friday's rainfall at Cape Hatteras -- 1.61 inches -- beat the previous record of 1.57 inches, set last year.

Temperatures in the low 40s tonight will rise to about 50 tomorrow and fall back into the mid-40s on Sunday night.

The storm should quickly move northeast Sunday night with conditions improving on Monday.

However, Arctic air will drop into the area, and temperatures are forecast to be below normal for most of next week -- with lows in the 30s and highs in the 40s.  On the up side, dry conditions are expected all week.

Bandy of the Weather Service is urging all residents and visitors to "be prepared and continue to monitor this dangerous weather situation for the coast."

For updated forecasts and more information, go to the NWS website at www.weather.gov/mhx or the Newport/Morehead City Facebook Page.

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