A Coastal Flood Warning has been issued for the Outer Banks starting at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, September 14, with ocean overwash and impacts to N.C. Highway 12 possible due to distant Hurricane Lee.
While Hurricane Lee is expected to remain well offshore, the Outer Banks may experience a range of coastal hazards from the storm, including 2 to 4 feet of flooding along the oceanside of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, especially in areas where the dunes are compromised. Hatteras Island could also see breaking waves of 10 to 15 feet in the surf zone, and significant beach erosion should be expected.
Oceanside flooding could lead to travel impacts along vulnerable sections of N.C. Highway 12, particularly during the next few high tide cycles. Oceanfront locations where there are no protective dunes in place – like the northern end of Rodanthe and parts of Buxton and northern Hatteras village – could become inundated with ocean water. The next high tide is approximately 7:30 a.m. on Thursday.
There are no soundside impacts from Hurricane Lee expected at this time along the Outer Banks.
Per a Wednesday evening update from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), N.C. Highway 12 was open and passable throughout, with NCDOT personnel stabilizing the dunes in problematic areas in anticipation of potential ocean overwash.
“All is well currently on N.C. 12 as we wait for Hurricane Lee to pass us by well to our east,” stated NCDOT in an online update. “Our crews will be out today and tomorrow shoring up the dune lines for possible tidal impacts [on] Friday and Saturday, so drive carefully and give them room to work!”
Residents and visitors in vulnerable areas should take action to protect property and relocate vehicles before coastal flooding becomes a concern.
Ocean conditions will continue to worsen on Wednesday, keeping the ocean unsafe for swimming into the weekend. A high risk of rip currents is expected to remain in place for the rest of the week.
The public should check surf and swimming conditions before heading to the beach, and the daily beach forecast at www.weather.gov/beach/mhx includes rip current risk levels, and information about other hazards along the shoreline. In addition, the public can visit Dare County’s Love The Beach, Respect The Ocean website for current rip current risks and additional info.
Visitors are also encouraged to sign up for text alerts from Dare County, ocean rescue agencies, and the National Weather Service by texting “OBXBeachConditions” to 77295.