The Early March Nor’easter and What’s on the Horizon
By JOY CRIST
late last week, a prolonged period of north winds caused major flooding
at multiple points throughout Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, closing
N.C. Highway 12 for roughly four days.
while the highway has been open on both islands since Wednesday
afternoon, with just a limited amount of saltwater and sand remaining
on the roads, islanders are still keeping their eye on the forecast for
a potential storm early next week.
The March 2-5 Storm
early March nor’easter, which started on Friday morning with soundside
flooding in the 2-3’ foot range and then continued through the weekend
with ocean overwash, was not atypical on the surface.
like this one - but maybe not at this magnitude - are going to happen
on that stretch of the Outer Banks several times a year because of the
location and orientation of the island,” said Jim Merrell, Forecaster
for the National Weather Service Newport / Morehead City Office.
this [event] was slightly more unusual, as the storm was north /
northeast, and the swell energy produced these large waves which just
kept pounding the northern Outer Banks.”
prolonged duration of the storm, which moved at a snail’s pace through
the Mid-Atlantic, is essentially what caused the damage.
wind was mainly just over the weekend, but then you had residual
swells, and the wind came around to north / northeast,” said Merrell.
“The storm is long gone and way out to sea, but because it was slow
moving and so strong, it builds up that swell energy which was coming
at the Outer Banks for several days.”
forecasters from the Newport / Morehead City came to the Outer Banks
late this week to conduct storm surveys and examine the water level
rise and storm surge.
the initial report on the summary of the storm showed some unique
characteristic of this strong nor’easter. Inland, the storm produced
record low water levels in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, with water
levels up to five feet below normal.
high winds were also recorded at multiple points throughout the
islands, which included the following recordings from Friday morning,
• 66 mph recorded at the Oregon Inlet Coast Guard Station
• 54 mph recorded in Avon
• 53 mph recorded in Hatteras
• 49 mph recorded in Rodanthe
• 49 mph recorded in Buxton
• 48 mph recorded in Frisco
• 58 mph recorded at the Maritime Station in Ocracoke
• 60 mph recorded at the Diamond Shoals Buoy
Potential Storm for Early Next Week
cleaning efforts throughout the islands underway, many locals are now
paying attention to the forecast for early next week, as another storm
becomes a possibility.
it’s still early to make a definitive call on the track and impact of a
potential storm – or if it will form and affect the area at all -
forecasters are keeping an eye on a low that is approaching the area.
models have some low coming up the coast, but they differ on the
movement and location of it,” said Merrell. “Some models have it
offshore and slower to develop, and some have it directly moving along
is pointing to another nor’easter type storm developing early Monday,
and affecting the area Monday into Tuesday,” he said. “The system that
will cause the low to develop offshore will arrive Sunday, and it will
actually develop Sunday night and Monday morning.”
Any potential storm is still at least 3-4 days out, but forecasters are continuing to monitor potential developments.
now, islanders should expect rain to spread into the area late
Saturday/early Sunday morning, becoming widespread Sunday and lingering
into Monday as the low lifts away from the area.
For more information, visit www.weather.gov/mhx for
weather forecast information, or the National Weather Service office in Newport
/ Morehead City’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity/.