TS Ophelia Moves Inland NC 09/23 07:38
Tropical Storm Ophelia was moving inland across North Carolina early
Saturday, lashing coastal areas with rain, damaging winds and dangerous surges
of water, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Tropical Storm Ophelia was moving inland across North
Carolina early Saturday, lashing coastal areas with rain, damaging winds and
dangerous surges of water, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Life-threatening flooding was forecast for parts of eastern North Carolina
and southeastern Virginia, but the system is expected to weaken after landfall.
Radar, hurricane hunter aircraft and observers on the ground found that
Ophelia's center came ashore at around 6:15 a.m. near Emerald Isle with maximum
sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), the hurricane center said. An update at 8
a.m. put the storm's center about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Cape
Lookout, weakening slightly with maximum winds dipping to around 60 mph (105
Ophelia is likely to turn north Saturday and then shift northeast on Sunday,
the hurricane center said. The storm promised a weekend of windy conditions and
heavy rain up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) in parts of North Carolina and
Virginia, as well as 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) in the rest of the
mid-Atlantic region through Sunday.
A storm surge warning, indicating danger from rising ocean water pushed
inland by Ophelia, was in effect from Bogue Inlet, North Carolina, to
Chincoteague, Virginia. Surges between 4 and 6 feet (1.2 and 1.8 meters) were
forecast in some areas. A tropical storm warning was issued from Cape Fear,
North Carolina, to Fenwick Island, Delaware.
The center ended its hurricane watch advisory in parts of coastal North
The governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland declared a state of
emergency on Friday. Some schools closed early and several weekend events were
canceled, and in Washington, the Nationals baseball team postponed its Saturday
game until Sunday.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued the declaration to help expedite
preparations and provide a swift response.
"We want to ensure that farmers, first responders and utility crews have the
tools necessary to prepare for severe weather," Cooper said.
The North Carolina Ferry System suspended service on all routes until
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said the emergency declaration aimed "to ensure
that all communities, particularly those with the greatest anticipated impact,
have the resources they need." He encouraged residents to prepare emergency
kits and follow weather forecasts closely.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the state expects an extended period of strong
winds, heavy rainfall and elevated tides.
Nancy Shoemaker and her husband Bob stopped by a park in Maryland's capitol
of Annapolis to pick up sandbags Friday. A surge of water during a storm last
October washed away sandbags they had in their yard, which is next to the water.
"We're hoping it won't be that way this time," Nancy Shoemaker said. "If we
have a lot of wind and a lot of surge, it can look like the ocean out there, so
that's a problem."
Annapolis water taxi driver Scott Bierman said service would be closed
"We don't operate when it's going to endanger passengers and or damage
vessels," Bierman said.
Dave Swain, of Havre de Grace, Maryland, took his boat to Annapolis for the
weekend. He had already secured the vessel at the City Dock early Friday
afternoon and was prepared to ride out the storm.
"Really, you just have to make sure you're tied up, and we've got bumpers
out to make sure you don't hit the docks," Swain said. "It's safer here than it
would be to go back home right now, so we're going to ride it out and see what
It is not uncommon for one or two tropical storms, or even hurricanes, to
develop right off the East Coast each year, National Hurricane Center Director
Michael Brennan said.
"We're right at the peak of hurricane season, we can basically have storms
form anywhere across much of the Atlantic basin," Brennan said.
Scientists say climate change could result in hurricanes expanding their
reach into mid-latitude regions more often, making storms like this month's
Hurricane Lee more common.
One study simulated tropical cyclone tracks from pre-industrial times,
modern times and a future with higher emissions. It found that hurricanes would
track closer to the coasts including around Boston, New York and Virginia and
be more likely to form along the Southeast coast.