UPDATED: Combo of Fiona waves, winds behind cold front creating dangerous surf conditions and overwash along Outer Banks

UPDATED: Combo of Fiona waves, winds behind cold front creating dangerous surf conditions and overwash along Outer Banks

September 22nd, 2022

UPDATED, Friday, 8 a.m.: Northerly winds behind a cold front that passed over the region Thursday evening are combining with large swells from distant Major Hurricane Fiona, creating dangerous surf conditions and overwash at high tide that’s expected to continue into early Saturday.

Sea water and sand were reported on N.C. 12 at multiple the normal trouble spots along the south-facing beaches, including between Frisco and Hatteras village and on the north end of Ocracoke Island.

Latest image from Sandy Bay/Isabel’s Inlet north of Hatteras village (NCDOT)

Ocracoke N.C. 12

The worst conditions are expected with the Friday evening high tide around 7:30 p.m. The overwash issues on N.C. 12 Friday morning led to a three-hour delay for the Cape Hatteras Schools.

All roads on the Outer Banks remained open as of Friday morning. Ferry service to-and-from Ocracoke was also operating, but stronger winds and higher waves on Friday may cause a suspension of runs on the Hatteras, Swan Quarter and Cedar Island routes.

A Coastal Flood Warning is in effect due to water level rises of 2 to 3 feet above ground on the oceanside of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, a Coastal Flood Advisory from Duck to Oregon Inlet for water levels of 1 to 2 feet above ground, and a High Surf Advisory has been posted for breaking waves of 8-to 11-feet in the surf zone.

While NCDOT crews were shoring up dunes along N.C. 12 on Pea Island between Oregon Inlet and the Jug Handle Bridge on Thursday, no overwash has been reported in those areas so far.

Pea Island Canal Zone

The S-Turns/Mirlo Beach area is no longer a concern since the Jug Handle Bridge opened at Rodanthe, bypassing the area that has been prone to overwash for years.

Mirlo Beach

Flooding is not expected to be a problem in Avon south of the pier or in Buxton at the motels, after beach nourishment projects were completed during the summer.

Buxton motels

Travel will likely be impacted on the four-wheel drive beaches of the Currituck Outer Banks north of Corolla around high tide Friday morning and evening.

The National Park Service continues to warn everyone to stay away from the beach off Rodanthe due to the threats from more than a dozen threatened oceanfront homes that could be damaged or even collapse because of the pounding surf.

“The widest reaching impact will be hazardous ocean conditions that will make the ocean unsafe for swimming,” said Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson.

Ocean rescue staffing levels are now at off-season levels. Many beaches that had lifeguard stands are now unguarded or covered by a roving patrol.

The recommendation by Cape Hatteras National Seashore officials to avoid a two-mile stretch of beach between the north end of Rodanthe and South Shore Drive, is based on the weather forecast and the presence of several vulnerable houses that may be damaged by rough surf and high winds.

Additionally, it is possible that structures associated with some homes, including wires, pipes and septic systems may become partially or completely exposed and hazardous to the public as the ocean washes over the beach.

The Park Service said Thursday morning that the increasing surf had already made driving on the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore hazardous in multiple locations, including little drivable beach on Ocracoke and Ramp 49 at Frisco and Ramp 55 at Hatteras.

Work on the beach nourishment projects off Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores hwill have to be suspended once the waves become too dangerous for dredges and tugs to operate, but the pipes used to send sand to the beach from offshore will be left in place.

The center of Hurricane Fiona made landfall along the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, knocking out power to the entire U.S. territory and caused catastrophic flooding.

The fifth named system and third hurricane of 2022, Fiona reached category 4 on Wednesday to become the first major hurricane of the season. Bermuda took a glancing blow from the storm Thursday night.

Back in northeastern North Carolina, highs will only be in the upper 60s on Friday with north winds of 25 to 30 mph and gusts up to 40.

More moderate conditions, and near-to-above normal temperatures, are expected over the weekend.

Pearson asked everyone to “share the message to stay out of the ocean far-and-wide so our ocean rescue personnel aren’t faced with truly perilous conditions should they need to try and save someone.”

Updated surf zone forecasts from the National Weather Service are posted at https://www.weather.gov/beach/midatlantic.

For more information on rip currents, visit LoveTheBeachRespectTheOcean.com and SafeCorolla.com.

For the latest images from NCDOT traffic cameras on the Outer Banks and northeastern North Carolina, visit: https://wobx.com/2022/06/01/outer-banks-northeastern-north-carolina-traffic-cameras/.

LIVE video from Rodanthe Pier, courtesy RodanthePierLLC.com:

LIVE video from Kitty Hawk, courtesy Twiddy & Co.:

View the latest image of Oregon Inlet at Bonner Bridge Pier, courtesy National Park Service, at https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/bonner-bridge-pier.htm

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