A small survey crew from the US National Weather Service (NWS) Newport/Morehead City office paid a visit to the Outer Banks on Saturday to collect high water marks from Tropical Storm Michael.
They found that water levels were 2 to 4 feet above ground level on the soundside of north Avon, and the hardest hit areas on the Outer Banks included Manteo, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills. In Manteo, flooding of 3.1 feet above ground was recorded, which was just 1.45 feet shy of Hurricane Irene’s 4.1 feet of flooding in 2011.
Though N.C. Highway 12 was arguably the most impacted by soundside flooding in the tri-villages area of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, the northern region of Hatteras Island saw roughly 2-3 feet of above ground soundside flooding at the Pea Island Art Gallery in Salvo, and roughly 2 feet of above ground soundside flooding in the soundside region of the Camp Hatteras RV Resort & Campground in Rodanthe.
The “above ground” referenced in the survey alludes to water that rises above land in areas that would normally be dry. “For example, when we’re talking about the campground in Rodanthe, the ground that would normally be dry would have two feet of water above that,” said Morgan Simms of the NWS Newport/Morehead City office.
The NWS did note that these levels were likely higher in exposed areas, due to wave action on top of the surge.
Peak wind gusts of 66 mph were recorded on Ocracoke Island during Michael at 7:12 p.m. on October 11, while wind gusts of 64 mph were recorded in Frisco Woods at 9:45 p.m. on October 11. The Diamond Shoals Buoy recorded wind gusts of 65 mph on October 11 at 8:10 p.m., while Rodanthe recorded peak wind gusts of 56 mph later in the evening at 11:00 p.m.
For comparison, storm surge ranged from 2.5 to 7 feet along the North Carolina coast during 2011’s Hurricane Irene, with the highest storm surge (7.1 feet) measured at the NOS gage at the Oregon Inlet Marina. During Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the highest storm surge levels along the entire East Coast were recorded at Hatteras Village at 5.8 feet.