Hurricane Maria Effects on Outer Banks
Even though the center of Hurricane Maria is going to remain far out to sea, as a precautionary step Ocracoke and Hatteras Island have evacuated all visitors. This does not effect the northern Outer Banks—Nags Head to Corolla—at all.
The concern in this case is ocean overwash, especially north of Rodanthe at the S Curves. If that section of NC 12 becomes impassable, there is no way to drive to Hatteras or Ocracoke. Residents in those areas are typically well-provisioned for a two or three day standoff with the elements, but the concerns about a few thousand visitors added to the mix were realistic.
Although the full effects of Maria will remain well offshore, Tuesday and Wednesday look to be unpleasant days. The area is under a tropical storm warning; however, the local forecasts do not call for tropical storm conditions. Wind—yes; and some rain. But sustained winds, according to what we’re seeing, should remain below the 39 mph threshold for tropical storm conditions.
The ocean is another story, though. At present, wave forecasts are running between 15’-23’ with the largest waves crashing ashore in Rodanthe. If the waves are that large, the S Curves will be impassable and will remain that way probably until Thursday afternoon or Friday.
How Maria is Behaving
The problem is the Maria’s behavior. It seems as though she want to hang around.
The National Hurricane Center comments seem to sum up what’s happening.
Acknowledging first that, “Maria continues its slow northward trek.” The NHC then goes on to ad a qualifier. “…the forward speed is atypically slow…”
The good news is that after the “atypically slow…” trek off the Outer Banks coast, Maria will make a sharp turn to the north and east rapidly accelerate out to sea as she loses strength.