June 6, 2016

UPDATE: Tropical storm warning now in
effect for Hatteras, Ocracoke

Late on Monday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center extended its tropical storm warning to include much of the southeast coast up to Oregon Inlet, which means that Hatteras and Ocracoke islands are now in the warned area.

According to the local National Weather Service office in Newport/Morehead City, N.C., Tropical Storm Colin is located 730 miles southwest of Buxton but will quickly move northeast overnight and Tuesday along the North Carolina coast.

The primary threats from the tropical system, forecasters say, is heavy rainfall, gusty winds, high seas, dangerous shorebreak along the beaches, and an high threat of rip currents.

The Hurricane Center kept Colin's winds at 50 mph at its 5 p.m. update, but reported that the storm is moving more quickly -- north-northeast at 23 mph. A northeastward motion at a faster forward speed is expected tonight and Tuesday. 

On this track, the center of Colin is forecast to move onshore of the Florida Big Bend area this evening, then move across northern Florida and southeastern Georgia through
early Tuesday morning, and move near or over the North Carolina coast on Tuesday.

"Colin is an unorganized storm, and significant uncertainties remain in its exact track," warned forecasters at the local Weather Service office. "Should Colin take a more northern track shift, more wind impacts could move onto the coast."

The strongest winds are expected to remain along or just off the coast, where the forecast on the southern Outer Banks calls for southwest 30 to 40 mph with higher gusts, shifting to the northwest later on Tuesday.  The tropical storm warning includes Pamlico Sound and the coastal waters south of Oregon Inlet, where seas could peak at 9 to 14 feet.

Local forecasters say only minor water level rises of 1 to 2 feet are expected across the southern Pamlico Sound and Dare and Hyde counties.

However, rain could be quite heavy with amounts of 3 to 5 inches along the coast with isolated higher amounts up to 8 inches possible.  A flash flood watch is effect until Tuesday afternoon, since the heavy rain on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands will fall on areas that measured up to a foot of rainfall just last week as Tropical Depression Bonnie brushed by the area. The highest threat of flooding of low lying areas and roadways will be late this evening into Tuesday afternoon.

There is a small risk of a tornado with the forecast track, mainly late tonight into early Tuesday afternoon.

However, there is a high risk of rip currents along area beaches Tuesday through Wednesday.

Dare County announced that its offices on Hatteras Island will be closed on Tuesday, and that garbage collection scheduled for Tuesday will be delayed until Wednesday. Hatteras Island customers are asked to keep their cans secured and not put them out for pickup until the storm passes.

Hatteras Island schools only will be closed tomorrow in Dare County.  The makeup day will be Friday, June 10.

National Park Service visitor centers, lighthouses, and permit offices at Cape Hatteras National Seashore will be closed on Tuesday morning. Seashore officials will reopen these facilities after the storm passes and facilities are assessed. All ranger-led programs scheduled for tomorrow are cancelled.  Because of rip currents and dangerous shorebreak,  the Park Service says seashore visitors are advised to stay out of the water and keep updated through local NOAA weather forecasts.

The good news is that somewhat cooler but much less muggy weather should arrive on Hatteras and Ocracoke on Wednesday and last through the week.

Meanwhile, residents and visitors should monitor the latest forecasts, watches, and warning on 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.

Click here to see the 5:30 p.m. briefing on Tropical Storm Colin's local impacts.

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