By JOY CRIST
The winter storm forecast for this weekend began with late Friday night and early Saturday morning rain, followed with high winds and icy temperatures. The winds and Arctic temperatures are expected to continue into Sunday morning, causing minor water level rises on the Outer Banks soundside from Buxton to Ocracoke.
According to a noon update from Rich Bandy, the Meteorologist-in-Charge for the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Newport/Morehead City, NC, sleet and freezing rain has been “the predominate precipitation types all across the Eastern N.C. area thus far.”
As of Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service expected mostly minor additional snow, sleet, and freezing rain accumulations through the rest of the day, with the best chance for additional accumulations in the northwestern area of the state. Hatteras and Ocracoke saw little or no frozen precipitation.
Temperatures will drop quickly on Saturday night and any wet surfaces will likely freeze soon after sunset. This will make for treacherous driving conditions, especially on bridges and overpasses overnight, and the bitterly cold temperatures will persist through tomorrow night and beyond.
Temperatures are forecast to fall into the 20s on Saturday and Sunday nights on Hatteras and Ocracoke, with wind chills in the single digits early Sunday morning. During the day on Sunday, the temperature is not expected to rise above freezing. The cold temps will linger after the weekend, with wind chills in the teens forecast for Monday morning on the islands.
There could still be some additional water level rises, especially soundside on the Outer Banks and in Downeast Carteret County through this evening that could cause some minor inundation in low lying areas and some roadways.
Hatteras Island was quiet on Saturday morning and afternoon, as many locals had preemptively moved their vehicles to higher ground in case of coastal flooding. Winds were in the 20-30 mph range for most of the day and are expected to remain strong into Sunday. The highest gust in Frisco was 47 mph from the northwest just after noon on Saturday.
While sound waters were rising to the top of local bulkheads, there were no reports of soundside flooding yet as of Saturday afternoon. Oceanside erosion was noted by several brave beach-goers, and especially in already delicate areas, such as Ocean View Drive in Avon.
Power outages due to ice on trees/lines and breezy weather are still possible, and the extremely hazardous travel conditions are expected to last all weekend. Travelers are urged to call 511 or go to www.ncdot.org for up to date roadway conditions.
Dare County is also listing cancellations for previously scheduled activities, which can be found here: http://www.darenc.com/departments/emergency-management/dare-county-fire-marshal/winter-weather-tips-1254.
For more detailed forecast information, go to www.weather.gov/mhx/