Reports trickled in on late Tuesday morning and early afternoon of sound and ocean flooding at a number of hot spots on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.
Hatteras village has already been inundated with soundside flooding, and Highway 12 just north of the village was covered with saltwater after the afternoon high tide. Residents reported being unable to drive through the northern section of Hatteras village without a 4WD vehicle.
In Buxton, oceanside flooding was reported close to Tower Circle, although the highway was still navigable as of 2 p.m.
At high tide, ocean waters flooded Oceanview Drive and Highway 12 in Avon near the Food Lion and Avon Post Office, from roughly Tern Street to Seaside Drive. Though still navigable, travelers should use extreme caution and slow down through the saltwater, which can cause permanent damage to vehicles.
Sound waters were starting to rise in the Hatteras Colony section of south Avon, but had not yet breached into the local neighborhoods as of 2 p.m.
Oceanside flooding was also reported at Ramp 27 just south of Salvo, and in the Mirlo Beach / S-Curves area of Rodanthe.
Ocracoke Island was also experiencing flooding at multiple locales as of Tuesday afternoon, with water washing over the ferry lanes on the northern section of the island, and water pouring into the village. The NCDOT announced that emergency ferry operations have ceased as of Tuesday, due to the worsening weather.
Maria is expected to move very slowly off the North Carolina coast through Wednesday, with hazardous conditions lingering through Thursday. A Storm Surge Warning was issued earlier in the day for Ocracoke to Buxton, with highest surge levels developing late today and continuing into Thursday.
As of 2 p.m., Maria was located about 165 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras and was moving north at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
The next high tide is around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
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.