Soundside flooding has receded along parts of Outer Banks as Ophelia moves away

Soundside flooding has receded along parts of Outer Banks as Ophelia moves away

September 23rd, 2023

The Outer Banks made it through relatively unscathed from Tropical Storm Ophelia, which made landfall early Saturday along the Crystal Coast, and the soundside flooding that came in Saturday evening with strong southerly winds has since receded.

The Dare County Sheriff’s Office reported Sunday morning that all area roads were clear, except for a patch along N.C. 12 at the Wind over Waves neighborhood on Hatteras Island.

Live view of Downtown Manteo:

The NC Ferry Division had resumed operations on all three ferry Ocracoke ferry routes by 9 a.m.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial are reopening all facilities, except for the Cape Point Campground, at normal times on Sunday.

Cape Point Campground is flooded and may reopen in the coming days. Reservations and payments for camp sites at Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s Oregon Inlet, Frisco and Ocracoke campgrounds can be made at

Visitors should avoid entering the ocean until conditions improve. Check the daily beach conditions forecast at

Beach drivers should use caution, particularly around the hours of high tide, if attempting to travel along off-road vehicle routes on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

Those trying to reach the four-wheel drive areas north of Corolla should be aware that the beach could be impassible around high tide on Sunday at 3:31 p.m.

While Ophelia is now long gone, rough surf will still remain and a High Risk of rip currents is forecast, so stay out of the ocean.

Stay with the WOBX Weather Center for the latest updates.

National Weather Service seven-day forecasts for:

LIVE data from flood gauges at key locations throughout North Carolina, including automated email and text alerts, visit

Sign up for emergency alerts from Dare County and its municipalities. Beach safety and rip current information can be found at

Currituck County provides beach safety and emergency updates for Corolla and the mainland via Currituck Alert.

The NCDOT Ferry Division provides real-time text or email alerts from their routes via the Ferry Information Notification System (FINS) at System-wide route status updates will also be posted on the Ferry Division’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

For the latest images from NCDOT traffic cameras on the Outer Banks and northeastern North Carolina, visit:

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

Click to watch LIVE video from Corolla, courtesy Currituck County/WebCOOS

Earlier coverage

Report from Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Saturday 6:25 p.m.:

Photos from Saturday afternoon along Hatteras Island:

Water covers NC 12 in Salvo. [Mandy Haage Fuller photo]
NC 12 covered in water on Pea Island [Mandy Haage Fuller photo]
NC 12 covered in water on Pea Island [Mandy Haage Fuller photo]
A Coastal Flood Advisory remains in effect for the Outer Banks and inland counties for water levels of 1 to 2 feet above ground along the sounds and coastal rivers.

Flooding rains and moderate to major storm surge has been reported across inland parts of eastern North Carolina.

Saturday 10 a.m. update from Dare County:

Dare County remains under a Tropical Storm Warning, Storm Surge Warning, High Surf Advisory and Flood Watch.

Residents and visitors are urged to watch the sound throughout the day since the risk of flooding remains until the storm surge warning is lifted.

Residents and visitors 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.

To sign up to receive alerts if water levels in your area begin to rise due to storm surge, visit 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 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.

For the latest storm updates, please visit

Ophelia made landfall near Emerald Isle at 6:20 a.m. just below hurricane strength, and has since moved up towards Virignia.

Heavy rain and strong northeast winds began pelting the region Friday morning, and the onshore winds churned up the ocean and caused some minor overwash during high tide at the usual trouble spots along Hatteras Island.

That wind also pushed the sound waters away from the Outer Banks, and towards the opposite shorelines.

The water has been blown out so much in the Pamlico Sound at Rodanthe that people were able to walk to the Pappys Lane Wreck below the Jug Handle Bridge on Friday. [Rick Shaftan/Island Free Press photo]
 A Tropical Storm Warning, Storm Surge Warning, and Flood Watch remain in effect for all of eastern North Carolina, with a Hurricane Watch posted from Ocracoke Inlet to Surf City.PTC 16/Ophelia forecast graphicMHX Radar

The National Weather Service says that despite some areas experiencing lulls in the winds, they will still be some strong gusts as the center of circulation pass through.

Current forecasts have the surge threat through midday Saturday along the western and southern Pamlico Sound, Pamlico and Neuse rivers and southern Albemarle Sound due to northeast winds ahead of the storm’s center.

There could also be some ocean overwash ion Hatteras Island and four-wheel drive beaches north of Corolla will likely be impassible with high tide around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

As the storm passes over eastern North Carolina, those winds are forecast to shift to the opposite direction, but the exact direction and timing will depend on where and when the center tracks.

Those winds will likely push water in to the soundside shorelines of Hatteras Island, Roanoke Island, the northern beach towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk, up the Currituck Sound along Duck and Corolla and mainland Currituck, along with the rivers and creeks north of the Albemarle Sound into Elizabeth City, Hertford and Edenton and surrounding areas.

Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson issued the following statement Friday evening:

“Peak winds should occur overnight with the shift from the east to southeast/south possible a bit earlier in the day tomorrow. The Hour-by-Hour Forecast on the National Weather Service website remains a good tool for determining when it could occur at a particular location.

FIMAN gauges have shown the changes in soundside water levels as the wind has pushed water west. They will also show changes as the wind shifts and water starts to return, possibly bringing rapidly rising water levels to soundside locations. With uncertainty as to when this may occur, now or first thing tomorrow morning is the time to take action to protect property to include moving vehicles to higher ground. Hopefully residents and visitors along the oceanfront that have no protective dune have already relocated. If not they should be encouraged to do so before they become isolated by flood waters. Use this link FIMAN to access gauge info.

We did see a good flow of vehicles departing today. Travel overnight should be avoided and tomorrow will be a good time to hunker down and stay off the roads. For those that might be planning to arrive tomorrow it would be good to wait until Sunday when conditions have improved. Our NCDOT pros will be working hard to keep the roads open and safe. Please give them a “brake”, by slowing down or better yet avoiding travel altogether.

The ocean will remain unsafe for days after Ophila departs our area. Please keep up the effort to keep people out of the ocean until conditions improve.

National Weather Service forecast for Saturday for Buxton (as of Sat 5 a.m.):

National Weather Service forecast for Saturday for Kill Devil Hills (as of Sat 5 a.m.):

Friday night briefing from the National Weather Service Newport/Morehead City:

Here’s some of the scenes and updates we’ve collected throughout the storm along the Outer Banks:

Pungo Christian Academy in Belhaven along the Pungo River has a portable gym floor, which they took apart and moved to higher ground this evening as a precaution in case of storm surge flooding.

Update on Hatteras Island conditions from

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.

Rough surf from Ophelia is expected to last into at least Monday, which will likely mean No Swimming flags will remain flying all beaches.

“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,” Pearson said. “Do not put your life—or the lives of local ocean rescue personnel—at risk!”

Waves from distant Hurricane Franklin and Tropical Storm Idalia were responsible for four deaths along the coast of North Carolina during Labor Day week, including three people that died while swimming in the ocean along the Outer Banks.

28-year-old woman from Washington, D.C., died off Avon on Labor Day, followed by a 68-year-old Ohio man off Hatteras village, and a 36-year-old man from Connecticut off Nags Head.

Eight people died along the U.S. coast, including two on the Outer Banks, as a result of rip currents created by Hurricane Lorenzo when it passed well offshore in fall 2019. That’s more than total number of deaths from all hazards from Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall near Cape Hatteras less than a month earlier and flooded Ocracoke with a record eight-foot soundside storm surge.

Closings, postponements, cancellations
  • The National Park Service has closed all facilities ahead of severe weather conditions at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial for Saturday. Facilities are expected to reopen Sunday, Sept. 24, after post-storm assessments are completed.
  • The North Carolina Ferry Division has suspended service on all routes due to the conditions.
  • The Dare County Regional Airport’s 80th Anniversary Celebration that was scheduled to be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 23, 2023 has been canceled. The event has not been rescheduled at this time. Please stay tuned to for updates. For more information, please contact Tony Bruno at
  • The Blues on the Green Fall Music Festival in downtown Elizabeth City scheduled for Friday and Saturday has been cancelled.
  • The 3rd annual Camden Heritage Festival that was to take place on Saturday is also cancelled.
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