June 3, 2016

Bonnie is finally gone and sunny skies return -- for now

TTropical Depression Bonnie kept trucking east over the Atlantic overnight -- never making it back to tropical storm status -- and sunny skies returned to the Outer Banks this morning.

Roads on Hatteras and Ocracoke began drying out, although there is still standing water in places, especially east of Hatteras village, in southern Avon, and in the tri-villages.

The heavy rain of the past week is now  a storm event for the record books, but the National Weather Service says we can still expect showers from an approaching cold front over the weekend, especially on Sunday when there is a slight risk for severe weather.

At 11 a.m., this morning the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Depression Bonnie was located 200 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, moving east at 12 mph. This motion is expected to continue with an increase in forward speed during the next couple of days.

Maximum sustained winds were near 35 mph with higher gusts. The Hurricane Center expects little change in strength during the next 48 hours, but said that Bonnie is forecast to degenerate to a post-tropical low by Saturday.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City says that a trough of low pressure will move across the area late today and tonight, and then a cold front will move through the area Sunday night into Monday.

A second dry cold front is forecast to move through the region Tuesday night into early Wednesday with high pressure building behind the front through Thursday.

The Weather Service says there is only a 20 percent chance of showers this afternoon, but a 40 percent chance tonight.  Saturday should be partly sunny and in the lower 80s with a 40 percent chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms.  Sunday will also be warm with a 40 percent chance of showers and a 60 percent chance Sunday night.

The Weather Service says that the slight risk for severe weather on Sunday includes  a threat for strong winds and hail as the cold front approaches.

Next week is forecast to be warm, sunny, and less humid.

By most accounts, the Highway 12 and the side roads on Hatteras and Ocracoke began improving last evening after the heavy rainfall ended.  There was continued improvement this morning, but travelers should still take it slowly through areas of the road that are covered by water.

Be safe and courteous -- slow down when you drive through the deep water.  Do not spray your fellow motorists and leave a wake behind you.  If one lane is dry, it is customary for drivers to stop to let vehicles travel through the area on the dry pavement.

The National Park Service reports that there is standing water in some of the ramps -- some of it fairly deep -- and in low spots on the Inside Road between Ramps 44 and 49.  Ramp 49 is reported to be totally under water.  The Pole Road is also completely under water. There is some standing water on Lighthouse Road near the Cape Point Campground and the campground is flooded, making it temporarily unusable.

"At this time, there are no plans to close any ramps due to standing water," the Park Service said in a news release this afternoon.. If attempting to use a ramp on Hatteras Island, please use your best judgment. The ramps most heavily impacted by the recent rainfall are 43, 44, and 49. Beach ramp status is continually monitored and updated according to existing conditions."

Click here for the latest beach access update and ramp report from the National Park Service.

On the brighter side, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported today that Bonnie and other showers have dumped more than 10 inches of rain on the Whipping Creek Road Fire in the past few weeks and that it is now considered by USFWS and the N.C. Forest Service to be complete "out."

The fire, which started on April 18 on the Dare and Hyde county mainland, was declared contained but not "out" on May 5.  Firefighters continued to watch for hot spots to erupt as the fire can continue to smolder in the peat-rich soil.  In all, the fire burned 15,453 acres on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, the Dare Bombing Range, and assorted private lands.

For more information on the weekend forecast for Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, go to the local Weather Service website at
www.weather.gov/mhx/.  Or check out the local office on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity/?fref=ts.

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