Hanna Forcing Evacuations, Closures at Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout National Seashores

Tropical storm Hanna's approach to the Carolinas has forced some evacuations and closures at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras national seashores, and more steps could be taken depending on the severity of the storm.

As the accompanying NOAA image indicates, the forecast cone for the storm's path indicates that it will most likely make a direct hit along the North Carolina coast. As of 5 a.m. EDT Friday, September 5, Hanna had maximum sustained winds near 65 mph and was centered about 430 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina. The storm was accelerating and moving toward the northwest near 20 mph.

It is possible that Hanna's winds could reach hurricane velocity (74+ miles per hour). A hurricane watch remains in effect from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to Currituck Beach Light, North Carolina (including Pamlico Sound and the entire Outer Banks region).

At Cape Lookout, the seashore has issued a mandatory evacuation of all visitors from the seashore islands. The park closed to all visitors at 5 p.m. local time today, and all services were shut down as well until further notice.

At Cape Hatteras, officials say the Ocracoke Island Visitor Center and campground closed today at 5:00 p.m. and will remain closed until further notice. The Ocracoke Campground reservation system has been temporarily suspended. The Frisco campground also has been closed until further notice, while the Oregon Inlet Campground has been placed on a one-day availability basis.

Dare County (North Carolina) Emergency Management is advising residents and visitors to closely monitor local media outlets for the latest developments that may affect travel plans. It is recommended that anyone planning to travel on Saturday consider adjusting plans to avoid poor travel conditions.

Comments

While you follow the progress of the relatively wimpy Hannah, you might want to keep your eye on the hurricane that's following it in the Atlantic. Here's what my unimpeachable source said about Hurricane Ike yesterday morning (September 4):

Direct from the Scare the Pants off and Cry like Baby Department:
Hurricane Ike exploded overnight into a 135 kt hurricane in the Central
Atlantic. Ike should weaken from 100 car freight train status to 75 car
freight train status over the next day or so. The long range models
continue Ike westward into the southern Bahamas over the weekend and
then an ominous, scary music here, turn to the north and along the east
US coast as a 100-110 kt hurricane. Wunderbar. Charming.

As you can see, my source (who has Ph.D.-enhanced weather-analytical skills) has a warped sense of humor. I won't tell you her name, but her initials are Madilyn Fletcher. Stay tuned.

The ferocious-looking Hurricane Ike weakened to a Category 3 storm early today (September 5), but the National Hurricane Center still considers it dangerous.

I just left Frisco NC at 9:30 AM 9/5/08, with Hannah on my heels. She turned a 9 day vacation into a 7 day event. Conditions were rapidly deteriorating.

Beach closures for storms, while apparently a new idea, is a good one. Periods over overwash at times of high tide can take the unexperienced by surprise, and can actually strand pedestrians and drivers both until the tide drops.

I would seriously expect most, if not all of the unhatched turtle nests will be compromised or destroyed by this storm, no matter its intensity/category. Seas ran high on Labor Day Monday and again for 3 days afterward due to the passing of a cold frontal boundary. For a minimum of 3 days worth of high tide cycles, any nest not high on the dune was underwater. Sea/tide level had not yet reached normal status as of 9/4, my last day on the beach. 4-6' of storm surge is expected from Hanna, which may cause total dune overwash in many areas.

Forecast is for up to major beach erosion, and my weather-eye would agree with that after witnessing the much above-normal high tides during the last week. Good luck to all still in that area, turtles included.

dap


These are 2 turtle nest enclosures on Ramp 49 to the SW in Frisco, NC. Pictures were taken ~9:30AM on Labor Day Monday, just after high tide. Had to run along the toe of the dune as the beach was a salt river. The smaller in the foreground in not in its hatch window, while the larger one is. I don't know what this type of repeated flooding means to the eggs, but I've read recently that rain storms can drown them.

Looks like Hannah's landfall coincided with low tide, so any damage will be minimalized somewhat. South beach should still see the worst of it, being a south facer.

These pictures show just how volatile even such small weather event can be in this part of the world. Just imagine what such overwashes mean to bird nests. 2008 has actually been a pretty calm year, until just recently.

Sorry if these pictures come in very large. This was my first try at link-uploading photos.



Thanks for sharing the pictures, Dap. Helps put things in context.

Sad but true: Nature bats last!

Kurt,

My pleasure. When I saw what had happened that day, I had to document it. What's going on down there right this minute from Hanna has to be as bad or worse.

I hope these pictures do help others not familiar with the area to understand what so many of us have been trying to describe this summer.