Dare County remains under a Tropical Storm Warning, Storm Surge Watch, High Surf Advisory and Flood Watch.
Impacts from Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 are being realized today, Friday, September 22, 2023, with rain, increasing winds and hazardous ocean conditions. The National Hurricane Center anticipates Tropical Storm Ophelia forming later today and making landfall along the North Carolina coast tomorrow, Saturday, September 23, 2023.
Tropical storm-force winds are expected later today and will persist until late Saturday night. The easterly wind flow is expected to peak sometime in the late afternoon on Saturday, and into the evening the storm is expected to move north and the wind will shift 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. 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 Dare County 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 Dare County 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 within Dare County 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 mphare expected to begin on Friday, September 22, 2023 and continue through the afternoon of Saturday, September 23, 2023. Actions should be taken now to secure loose property to keep it from becoming a projectile hazard.
- 3-6 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 Dare County that routinely flood during wind-driven events may also become impassable and hazardous.
- Travel on Saturday, September 23, 2023 should be avoided. Those who are planning to travel to Dare County tomorrow should consider waiting until Sunday, September 24, 2023, when conditions are forecast to improve. Impacts may be seen on roads throughout Dare County—not just on Hatteras Island—from the combination of strong winds, flooding rain and potential soundside surge.
- 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.
Dare County Emergency Management advises residents and visitors to exercise extreme caution when visiting Dare County beaches and to stay out of the ocean, as current conditions have made ocean swimming unsafe for even the most experienced swimmers. Do not put your life—or the lives of local ocean rescue personnel—at risk!
To sign up to receive customized emergency alerts—including severe weather watches and warnings, public safety and emergency-related warnings, countywide evacuation orders and other time-critical notifications—please visit www.OBXAlerts.com.
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.
For updates regarding road conditions, please visit DriveNC.gov and follow North Carolina Department of Transportation and NCDOT NC 12 on Facebook. The Dare County Sheriff’s Office also shares local road condition updates on their Facebook page.
To sign up to receive daily beach condition updates via text message, text “OBXBeachConditions” to 77295. For additional information about rip currents, red flag warnings and much more, visit www.LoveTheBeachRespectTheOcean.com.
For more information about how you can protect yourself and your property this hurricane season, please visit ReadyNC.gov, DareNC.gov/EM or follow Dare County Emergency Management on Twitter @DareCountyEM.