Tropical storm force winds as well as potential ocean and sound flooding from Maria is forecast to arrive on Tuesday, per the Monday afternoon briefing from the National Weather Service Newport/Morehead City Office.
There were only minor changes in the latest briefing, and a Tropical Storm Warning and Storm Surge Watch remain in effect for Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.
“We’re pretty comfortable with how things are for the next two days, but day three – Thursday – is when we have a little more uncertainty,” said David Glenn, Science and Operations Officer for NWS Newport/Morehead City.
Beginning tomorrow, dangerous surf of 12 to 15 feet will produce minor to moderate erosion, and ocean overwash and flooded roads are probable.
Storm surge inundation, with water level rises of 2 to 4 feet above ground, are also possible along the soundside starting late Tuesday morning or early afternoon. Storm surge will continue into Wednesday and potentially Thursday morning, depending on when Maria makes her turn offshore.
Tropical storm force winds of 30 to 40 mph are forecast for Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands as well, also starting on Tuesday, with gusts of 50 to 55 mph.
Though probabilities for tropical storm force winds have decreased slightly with the Monday evening forecast, because of Maria’s massive wind field which will expand further as she nears the coast, high winds from Tuesday through Thursday are likely.
Northbound traffic was sporadically backed up in the tri-villages area for several hours on Monday, as visitors left due to a Mandatory Evacuation for Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Locally, residents and visitors were busy making preparations and grocery store runs in anticipation of the storm.
Dare County Emergency Management urges motorists to proceed with caution over the next several days, drive slowly through standing water, and stay off Highway 12 during periods of high tide.
Hurricane Maria will pass about 150 miles southeast of the Outer Banks, bringing significant impacts for a long duration. It is likely that roads will become impassable for extended periods, and emergency response may be limited at the height of the storm. Per Dare County Emergency Management, now is the time for residents to ensure they are ready by taking personal planning and preparations seriously. For preparedness tips and information, see www.readync.org.
Visit www.weather.gov/mhx for weather forecast information covering Eastern NC, and visit the National Hurricane Center at www.nhc.noaa.gov for information on the tropics.
The Island Free Press will continue to monitor this system and will post updates as soon as they are available.