June 6, 2016

Record rainfall leaves some seashore ramps flooded


Record rainfall from tropical cyclone Bonnie has left some ramps in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore flooded and hazardous for travel and has temporarily closed the Cape Point Campground.

Several of the ramps on the seashore have had standing water in low spots over the past week, but the most flooded and hazardous are Ramps 43 and 44 in Buxton and Ramp 49 in Frisco, according to Hatteras Island District Ranger Joe Darling.

According to the seashore's beach access and ramp report, there is 8 to 10 inches of standing water in the entry way to Ramp 43, but the ramp is passable.  The water at 44 and 49 is so deep that the report recommends that small and mid-size off-road vehicles use caution.

The seashore said in a news release that it has no plans to close any ramps, but late on Saturday, Darling  posted signs at some ramps warning drivers, "Due to extreme rainfall from Tropical Depression Bonnie, vehicular travel is not recommended past this location in low clearance vehicles.  Portions of the ORV ramp are flooded with deep water. Enter at your own risk."

On southern Hatteras Island, there are no flooding problems with Ramp 55 in Hatteras village across from the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.  However, the Pole Road, in the same area is reported to be under a foot of water.

On Friday, June 3, the Park Service reported 7 to 8 inches of standing water at Cape Point Campground, which has made the campground inoperable for "the foreseeable future."

The Park Service said that, beginning on Thursday, it paused the online reservation system for Cape Point Campground for seven days.

"After a week, park staff will assess the campground and determine if it is safe to allow visitors to reserve camping spaces," park officials said.

There are no other seashore campground closures. And anyone with a reservation in the campground will receive a refund for time during which it is closed.

Rainfall records were set for two days last week at Billy Mitchell Airport in Frisco.  On Memorial Day -- Monday, May 30 -- 7.09 inches of rain fell at the airport, and on Thursday, 4.33 inches inundated the area, breaking a second record. 

A monthly rainfall record for the month of May at Billy Mitchell also fell. The total for the month was 12.67 inches, breaking the old record of 11.7 inches, set in 2003.  The  normal rainfall for May is 3.57 inches.

The total rainfall at Billy Mitchell for the Bonnie storm event was more than 14 inches.

Currently, the National Weather Service is keeping an eye on the third tropical system of the 2016 season, which formed as a tropical depression early Sunday and by Sunday evening had become Tropical Storm Colin. This storm, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico, is forecast to move quickly toward the Florida panhandle  today.  Then it is expected to move rapidly across northern Florida and up the East Coast offshore of the Outer Banks Monday night into Tuesday.

Depending on the path of the storm, the local National Weather Service office says Hatteras and Ocracoke could see another 1 to 3 inches of rain, with a possibility of up to 4 inches.

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

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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