As of the 2:00 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center has determined that Potential Tropical Cyclone Sixteen has gained tropical characteristics and is now Tropical Storm Ophelia with current maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.
At 2:00 p.m., Ophelia was located about 185 miles south of Cape Hatteras and was moving north-northwest at 12 mph. Ophelia is expected to make landfall along the North Carolina coast tomorrow morning, Saturday, September 23.
Minor ocean overwash was reported with Friday afternoon’s 1:00 p.m. high tide on several side roads on Hatteras Island, including the Mirlo Beach area in north Rodanthe and Old Lighthouse Road in Buxton.
N.C. Highway 12 was still open and passable throughout as of 3:00 p.m. Friday, with some sand and standing water from heavy rains, but additional overwash is likely with the next high tide at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The Hatteras-Ocracoke, Ocracoke-Swan Quarter, and Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferry operations will remain suspended on Saturday, September 23, per an update from the North Carolina Ferry System.
Tropical-storm-force winds are expected later on Friday and will persist until late Saturday night. The easterly wind flow is expected to peak sometime in the late afternoon on Saturday, and in the evening, the storm is expected to move north with the wind shifting 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. (Pamlico Sound water levels were low at multiple locations throughout Hatteras Island as of Friday afternoon, and particularly in Avon and the Tri–villages.) Should this occur, the potential for soundside flooding impacts will increase.
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.
Residents and visitors throughout the Outer Banks should expect these impacts:
- Life-threatening rip currents and large surf with waves heights of 7-10 feet in the surf zone will result in dangerous conditions along all Hatteras Island beaches continuing into the weekend.
- The easterly wind will bring potential for life-threatening storm surge of 2-4 feet above ground along the oceanfront, while pushing sound waters to the west. With the current forecast, the potential for rising water levels should be anticipated at all locations that are susceptible to wind-driven flood impacts. *Details on timing can be found on the National Weather Service Newport/Morehead City, N.C. website by entering your location in the upper left corner and then reviewing the wind direction and intensity on the “Hourly Weather Forecast” found at the bottom right under “Additional Resources.”
- Increasing winds that should peak at 45-55 mph with gusts of up to 70 mph are expected to begin on Friday, September 22, and continue through the afternoon of Saturday, September 23, Actions should be taken now to secure loose property to keep it from becoming a projectile hazard.
- 4-6 inches of flooding rain with locally higher amounts is forecast, as well as rainfall that could lead to flash flooding and standing water on roadways that may impact travel.
- Potential tornado activity is also possible. Be sure to have multiple ways to receive weather alerts, especially at night.
Travel impacts will occur as the combination of high winds, heavy rain and potential overwash bring hazardous road conditions. Travel on N.C. Highway 12 may be impacted by ocean overwash at vulnerable locations, especially during high tide. Travel on secondary roads throughout the Outer Banks that routinely flood during wind-driven events may also become impassable and hazardous.
- Travel on Saturday, September 23, should be avoided. Those who are planning to travel to Hatteras or Ocracoke Islands tomorrow should consider waiting until Sunday, September 24, when conditions are forecast to improve.
- Residents and visitors who are located along the oceanfront and have no protective dune should consider relocating and taking action now to protect property.
- Residents and visitors who are on the soundside should be ready to take action should the east wind drive water to the west. The potential rapid return of water on Saturday afternoon and into the evening could put property at risk of being flooded. Consider moving vehicles to higher ground, just in case.
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/.