Dorian Is Not a Welcome Visitor to the Outer Banks

Closeup of Hurricane Dorian’s forecast track as it passes the Outer Banks.

As visitors go, Hurricane Dorian is not the kind we like on the Outer Banks. The best we can say for him is he’s not going to hang around for very long.

Unfortunately his visit is pretty miserable.

Here on the northern Outer Banks where are Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates homes are, we’re getting hit with some very heavy rains and some good very strong tropical storm force winds. The hourly forecasts that we’ve been reviewing indicate the worst of Dorian will be happening about midmorning until noon tomorrow.

That’s when the winds will be the strongest—50-55 mph. And that will be sustained for about four hours. Not very pleasant…actually downright unpleasant…but we should get through it just fine. 

The current prediction is for a 4-7’ storm surge along the oceanfront. That level of surge coupled with waves up to 12’ in the surf zone means there will be overwash and the Beach Road will probably be impassible for a day or so.

We could be wrong on that. In Dare County the beaches have been nourished and beach nourishment does do a very good job of protecting homes and infrastructure, but there is s limit to how much it can do.

On the northern Outer Banks we’re  doing ok, although we would certainly be doing better if Dorian was not paying us a visit.

Down on Hatteras Island, though, it looks like it’s going to be a different story.

With little deviation, the forecast track of Dorian for the past 24 hours has the eye of the hurricane clipping Hatteras Island. The latest track places the eye over Buxton tomorrow morning.

The good news—or at least what passes for good new in this situation—is that Dorian is picking up speed. The last report we had was that the storm was moving NNE at 13 knots or 15mph. The forecasts are all in good agreement that the acceleration will continue, Dorian will be here an gone relatively quickly.

We’ll have to see what emergency management says, but hopefully our visitors—the ones we son enjoy hosting—will be back on the Outer Banks next week.

Navigating Summer Roads on the Outer Banks-Tips and Patience

Outer Banks summer traffic on the Bypass. Be patient and think about alternative routes.
Outer Banks summer traffic on the Bypass. Be patient and think about alternative routes.

Be Patient-It Doesn’t Take That Long

Now that the summer solstice has officially announced the arrival of summer, our Outer Banks roads are filled with cars—most of them visitors but the locals have to drive as well.

What becomes apparent very quickly is getting from point A to point B at this time of the year can be a pretty trying experience.

So today we thought we would offer some advice to help our Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates visitors navigate what can be a frustrating driving adventure.

First…be patient. Remember—you’re on vacation. If it takes an extra 10 or 15 minutes to get someplace, it’s not that big of a deal.

The rest of our advice applies to the main Outer Banks towns of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. Sorry Corolla, Duck and Southern Shores visitors, but there is only one road—NC12— that services the towns and our advice to “be patient” really is the best way to get around.

For the main beach towns, though, there are a couple of things that may be helpful.

Most of the traffic during the summer ends up on US 158, aka the Croatan Highway or The Bypass.

Once upon a time, it really was a bypass—an alternate five lane highway that bypassed the main business districts of the towns along the Beach Road…aka NC 12 or Virginia Dare Trail. It’s not much of a bypass anymore, since almost every major business now has a store or restaurant along the road.

The alternative is to take the Beach Road. Think of it as a more civilized way to travel. The 35 mph speed limit is lower than the Bypass, but it has far fewer lights and if the traffic is really heavy on the Bypass, it may not be that much slower.

Because traffic is so heavy on the bypass, getting on to the road can present some problems. Go back to our first point and be patient, but also, whenever possible use a traffic light to get on the road. That is particularly important if making a left hand turn.

Another possibility, if there is no light available, is to make a right hand turn, go to a light, intersection or even a shopping area, and turn across one lane of traffic instead of two.

Finally, we realize that when making a left hand turn into the traffic on the Bypass it’s tempting to use the middle land as an acceleration lane. Please don’t! The center turn lane is already confusing enough without an accelerating car coming at another vehicle attempting to turn left from the opposite direction.

Let’s face it—even though the traffic can be frustrating at times, being patient is a great way to deal with it.

Nor’easters Create Perfect Conditions for Big Surf Waves

Surfing the break at Kitty Hawk, March 7. Photo, Brent Nultemeier.
Surfing the break at Kitty Hawk, March 7. Photo, Brent Nultemeier.

Amazing Conditions Greet Surfers on Wednesday

Maybe it was the back to back nor’easters that created the perfect conditions for the waves that rolled in on Wednesday. Maybe it was the wind shifting just enough to the west to stack those massive waves, so they were no longer an unreadable swirl of currents.

Whatever it was, something happened yesterday to create an almost perfect winter surfing day.

Make no mistake, this was a day for the best only. Ten and twelve foot waves—and a few bigger—breaking 75 yards offshore are conditions only suited for the most experienced, but the action for those few who did get out there was incredible.

Significant Impacts Experienced

That is not to lessen the impact of the storms that battered the Outer Banks this past week. Somehow NCDOT has managed to get the S Curves north of Rodanthe opened almost immediately after being completely under water. A remarkable feat, but it also means Hatteras Island is not cut off from the rest of the world.

North of Oregon Inlet the relentless pounding of that perfect combination of storms pushed seawater over parts of the Beach Road in Nags Head and on the north end of Kitty Hawk.

In spite of the overwash, it does look as though the beaches that were nourished have held up well. Nourishment is used for shoreline and infrastructure protection. Five days of 12-15’ waves with a strong onshore wind is going to push water inland no matter what.

At first glance though, it looks like the overwash in Kitty Hawk was not nearly as severe as it has been in the past, and critical areas of the Beach Road that have been washed out as recently as last year, were not affected at all.

It looks as though there is another storm brewing, forecast to push offshore this weekend. Like the past two, the brunt of its power will be to the north of the Outer Banks…but the waves will certainly be rolling in.

Outer Banks Matthew Recap

Construction on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk, repairing damage done by Hurricane Matthew.
Construction on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk, repairing damage done by Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew is almost two weeks gone and we’re still dealing with the lingering effects here on the Outer Banks.

Everything is open and there is plenty for our visitors to do, but look around and evidence of its passage is not hard to find.

Large puddles still cover some parking lots and lower lying roads. For our Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates. guests hailing from towns and cities away from the coast, it may seem strange. Living on the coast, however, there is an acceptance that we’re at sea level, and there is no place for the water to drain to.

The other part to why the water is still there…it’s actually ground water. The rains fell so hard and so fast and there was so much of it, that the water table rose to the surface. The water table is subsiding, but it is going to take another couple of weeks.

Different areas of the Outer Bank suffered different amounts of damage. Our friends down on Hatteras Island really got hammered, but roads are open and things are just about back to normal.

We had some of the worst flooding we’ve seen on the ocean side in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. In Nags Head two of our favorite places on the Beach Road, Seagreen Gallery and Surfin’ Spoon, really took a beating. Seagreen should be reopening soon if they haven’t already—we didn’t get a chance to check this week. Surfin’ Spoon will take longer; they lost some of their equipmen.

Most of the Outer Banks roads came through remarkably well. The glaring exception is the Beach Road in front of the Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk. Just to the north of where the ocean wiped out the road, NCDOT had replaced the road last year and protected the roadbed with giant sandbags. The process is being extended to the new section that was damaged. Construction typically takes about one to two months so expect the road to be reopened sometime around Thanksgiving.

Goodbye Hermine

Outer Banks Fishing Pier, Sunday, Spetember 4, 11:30 a.m. Surf running at 8-10'.
Outer Banks Fishing Pier, Sunday, Spetember 4, 11:30 a.m. Surf running at 8-10′.

It looks as though we have another day of high surf battering the Outer Banks as Tropical Storm Hermine spins away out in the Atlantic. All sign point to her meandering a bit and then moving out to sea, but it does look as though tomorrow, Monday, is not going to be a good beach day.

There’s certainly some picking up we have to do now that Hermine has left. She was a tropical system of a different nature; the wind and rain Friday night into Saturday early morning was downright noisy . . . ok loud—very loud.

But Saturday by 9:00 or 10 a.m. it really seemed as the worst of Hermine was gone. The wind had died down to tolerable levels—20 or 25 mph and it had stopped raining. Then the trailing end hit and we had some of the strongest gusts of the whole episode; 60 and even a report (unofficial) of 70 mph. Pretty crazy, and not like most tropical systems that are here and then gone.

The Beach Road north of in Kitty Hawk took a beating again, but it doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did last year. The sand dunes are gone, but it appears as though the road is intact.

The Outer Banks didn’t shut down for this one at all—no reason to really. A day and a half of being a little miserable, but things are already back to normal. Fall is a great time to visit. Give us a call at Joe Lamb. Jr.—the rates are reasonable and the weather is great…and there doesn’t look as though there is anything in the Atlantic that’s going to change that any time soon.