The sun finally came out on very soggy Hatteras and Ocracoke this afternoon — the beginning of what will be a long drying-out process after two weeks of heavy rain, gusty onshore winds, and coastal flooding.
Back-to-back coastal storms are to blame for most of the nasty weather, but in between the two storms, the islands were briefly threatened by very powerful Hurricane Joaquin. Even though Joaquin eventually headed out to sea, it hung around the Bahamas long enough to send southeast swell toward the East Coast of the U.S.
That swell combined with the persistent onshore winds gusting over 30 for much of the time, record rainfall, ocean overwash, and soundside tidal flooding have inundated Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.
The heavy rains slowly ended overnight, and winds began subsiding, though they were still gusting to 30 mph at times this afternoon.
According to the National Weather Service in Morehead City, rainfall at Billy Mitchell Airport in Frisco from Friday, Sept. 25, through today, totaled 17.54 inches. Officially, the peak wind gusts were 37 in Frisco, 47 in Ocracoke, and 43 at the Diamonds Shoals buoy off Cape Point.
The pounding surf was down slightly today — enough that there was little ocean overwash at this afternoon’s high tide, though the water was right up to the dune line on most beaches. Soundside flooding was still a problem this afternoon on Ocracoke and southern Hatteras Island.
Ocracoke remains totally cut off. About 340 feet of the dune line was leveled by the powerful surf on north Ocracoke, and Highway 12 was under water and closed. The village streets also were flooded from rain and sound tide.
The island has been closed to visitors, and no ferries are running. Hyde County said today in a news release that the closure will remain in place on Wednesday and conditions will be reassessed on Thursday. The county said a decision will be made in the afternoon about when visitors can return.
On Hatteras Island, Highway 12 remained open, and it was pretty much business as usual, except for Hatteras village. The highway in the village remains open, but it and most of the other roads are badly flooded. Standing water is also a problem in places in all of the other villages.
Most of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore visitor facilities and ramps remained closed, and most beaches were inaccessible, even to pedestrians at times.
Forecasters says conditions will continue to improve overnight, and we can look forward to sunny skies with highs in the mid-70s.
You can click here to see a slide show of the flooding on Hatteras and Ocracoke, provided by Island Free Press readers. Thanks to all of you.