Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall near Emerald Isle at 6:20 a.m. on Saturday morning at near-hurricane strength, and while N.C. Highway 12 was open on Saturday morning, soundside flooding remains a concern as Ophelia tracks north through Eastern North Carolina.
“N.C. 12 remains open and passable with many areas of sand and water on the roadway,” stated the North Carolina Department of Transportation in a Saturday morning update. “However, we expect soundside flooding to occur later this morning as winds shift, so drive with extreme caution if you must go out. Wait for better conditions Sunday if possible.”
As of 8:00 a.m., the center of Ophelia was located about 40 miles northwest of Cape Lookout and the storm was moving north at 13 mph.
A continued northward motion is expected on Saturday, followed by a turn toward the northeast on Sunday. On the forecast track, the center of Ophelia will move across eastern North Carolina this morning, and then move into southeastern Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula by the end of today and into Sunday.
Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 65 mph (105 km/h) with higher gusts. Further weakening is expected through the rest of the weekend, and Ophelia is likely to become a post-tropical cyclone tonight or Sunday morning.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 310 miles (500 km) from the center. An observation in Cape Lookout recently reported sustained winds of 47 mph (75 km/h) with a gust to 71 mph (115 km/h).
The Outer Banks remains under a Tropical Storm Warning, Storm Surge Warning, High Surf Advisory, and Flood Watch.
The Hatteras-Ocracoke, Ocracoke-Swan Quarter, and Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferry operations remain suspended on Saturday, September 23, per an update from the North Carolina Ferry System.
On Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, tropical storm-force winds are expected to persist until late Saturday night. The easterly wind flow is expected to peak sometime in the late afternoon on Saturday, and as the storm moves north, the wind will switch to the south and southwest.
As the shift occurs, wind speed will also drop, which could lead to a quick return of sound water that was pushed west. Should this occur, the potential for soundside flooding impacts will increase, and 2-4 feet of above-ground inundation is possible.
To sign up to receive alerts if water levels in your area begin to rise due to storm surge, visit www.FIMAN.NC.gov and select the flood gauge(s) located in the waterway you’d like to monitor in real-time.
Ocean overwash remains a concern, although there was no overwash reported with Saturday’s 1:30 a.m. high tide. The next high tide is approximately 2:15 p.m.
Ocean conditions will remain unsafe for swimming for the next several days. 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.
For more information on the local forecast, visit www.weather.gov/mhx for general weather information, or the National Weather Service office in Newport / Morehead City’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity/.