October 21, 2016

Weather Service issues new coastal flood advisory   


Continuing high water levels in the Pamlico Sound along with a strong cold front that will cross the area late today have prompted the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City to issue a new coastal flood advisory for the Outer Banks.

The advisory for minor coastal flooding is in effect from 7 p.m. this afternoon until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The Weather Service says that water levels continue to be 1 to 2 feet above normal because of floodwaters from rivers and creeks on the mainland draining into the sound. Coastal flood advisories have been in effect for much of the past two weeks since Hurricane Matthew dumped record rainfall on eastern North Carolina.

In addition, a strong cold front will move over the Outer Banks this evening, bringing strong northwest winds that are forecast to blow 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 tonight and 15 to 25, again with gusts to 40 mph, on Saturday.

These conditions could bring some minor flooding on the soundside of the Outer Banks tonight and Saturday, with conditions improving Saturday afternoon.

In addition, Hatteras and Ocracoke will get a taste of fall with high temperatures forecast to be in the mid-60s Saturday and Sunday.  After a high of 70 degrees on Monday, temperatures will fall back to the mid-60s as another cold front crosses the area.

Sunny skies will accompany the cooler temperatures.

There is small craft advisory for coastal waters, and swimmers should also be advised that the threat of rip currents has remained high all week with the continuing east swell off area beaches.

Rip currents are most likely several hours either side of low tide, which is around 10 a.m. on Saturday.

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 eight drownings this year 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.

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