October 12, 2016


UPDATE: Flood advisory issued, visitors
allowed back to some of Hatteras

By IRENE NOLAN

Even as many islanders on southern Hatteras, especially in Hatteras village, continued to clean up from last weekend's devastating storm surge from Hurricane Matthew, the National Weather Service issued a coastal flood advisory for Hatteras and Ocracoke through next Monday, Oct. 17.

Also today, the Dare County Emergency Management's Joint Information Center issued a news release to say that visitors will be allowed back into some of Hatteras Island's villages, beginning at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13.

COASTAL FLOOD ADVISORY

The National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City issued the coastal flood advisory this afternoon for the coastal waters and counties adjacent to the Pamlico Sound into early next week.  This includes Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

The Weather Service says that gauges adjacent to Pamlico Sound continue to indicate water levels 1 to 2 feet above normal because of  floodwaters from Matthew's record rainfall that is moving down rivers and their tributaries and draining into the sound.

Coastal flooding will continue through early next week because of these floodwaters and because of increasing astronomical tides, which will peak early next week.

The Weather Service also says minor to moderate coastal flooding on the oceanside of the islands will likely develop by this weekend, also because of the astronomical high tides. There is a full moon on Sunday, Oct. 16.

The oceanside flooding will be caused by large swells, persistent northeast and north winds and astronomical high tides.

Most Hatteras islanders have noticed that even after Matthew's storm surge receded late Sunday, Oct. 9, that the water levels on the soundside would rise in the afternoon about the time of high tide.  Part of the increased water levels Monday were because of north winds that were still blowing 15 to 20 mph.

The Weather Service says that Hatteras and Ocracoke residents can expect water levels to remain about 1 to 2 feet above ground level until the weekend, when they will increase to 2 to 3 feet above ground level because of the astronomical high tide.

There is also a high threat of rip currents and dangerous shorebreak with waves of 5 to 7 feet on the island's beaches, at least through tomorrow.  

With various tropical systems hanging around offshore during September and early October, the rip current threat has been high along the Outer Banks more days than not.  

Rip currents are most likely around low tide, which is around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Rip currents are powerful, usually narrow channeled currents of water, flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves.

Swimmers are advised to use extreme caution and to never try to swim directly back into shore against a rip current because you will become quickly exhausted.  If you become caught in a rip current, you should yell for help and remain calm.  Do not exhaust yourself and try to stay afloat while waiting for help.  If you have to swim out of a rip current, swim parallel to shore and then back to the beach when possible.

Beach-goers should use extreme caution if swimming in the ocean.  There have been six drownings this year -- two this month -- in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, all associated with rip currents. And the National Park Service and local rescue squads report there have been many rescues and close calls.  

For local weather information, go to http://www.weather.gov/mhx/.  You can find the beach forecast, including the rip current forecast on the Island Free Press home page -- at the top right.  Click on the icon with the beach umbrella.

VISITOR ACCESS TO HATTERAS ISLAND

Dare County's Emergency Management Control Group decided this morning to allow visitors back to the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, and most of Buxton, beginning at 7 a.m. on Thursday morning, Oct. 13.

Restrictions against visitor entry will remain in place for areas south of the intersection of Highway 12 and Buxton Back Road, just north of Cape Hatteras Secondary School. That means that the villages of Frisco and Hatteras will still be closed to visitors.

The Dare County Sheriff's Office will staff a road block on Highway 12 at the Back Road.

Lt. Jeff Derringer of the Sheriff's Office said that visitors who are already in Frisco and Hatteras will need a letter from their rental management company affirming that they are renting property in those villages in order to travel back and forth through the road block.

Local officials will meet again on Thursday morning to review recovery efforts in Frisco and Hatteras and to determine if a time frame can be established for visitor entry into those villages.

Ocracoke Island is also closed to visitors, although the ferries are running again for residents and essential personnel.

            
comments powered by Disqus