Cape Hatteras National Seashore Preparing To Hurricane Irene

As of Wednesday afternoon meteorologists expected Hurricane Irene to make a direct hit on Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras national seashores. NOAA map.

With Hurricane Irene taking aim on North Carolina, officials at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Cape Lookout National Seashore were shuttering campgrounds and facilities, closing beaches, and directing visitors to leave the area.

As of 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was predicting that the North Carolina coastline would take a direct hit from the storm by Friday. Wind speeds along the coastline were expected to hit 110 mph by Saturday afternoon. Storm conditions were forecast to last into Sunday.

"In anticipation of this weather event, all NPS campgrounds, Ocracoke, Frisco, Cape Point and Oregon Inlet, will close at noon today, Wednesday, August 24," officials at Cape Hatteras National Seashore announced. "The Ocracoke Campground reservation system has been temporarily suspended. The Silver Lake Marina NPS docks will close at noon today, Wednesday, August 24, 2011.

"The Ocracoke Visitor Center, Hatteras Island, Bodie Island and Wright Brothers and Fort Raleigh Visitor Centers will remain open until close of business today, Wednesday, August 24, then will remain closed until further notice," the statement added. "Previously scheduled evening programs for August 24 are cancelled. Lifeguard beach operations at Ocracoke, Buxton, and Coquina Beach will close at 5 p.m. today, Wednesday, August 24 until further notice."

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse also was closing Wednesday at 6 p.m. EDT until further notice. All park special programs scheduled for Founder’s Day, Thursday, August 25th, have been cancelled. Regularly scheduled fall Interpretive programming will resume after the storm passes the area. The Flags Over Hatteras event, scheduled for August 25-28, has been postponed until further notice due to the threat of Hurricane Irene.

In preparation for the storm, Ocracoke beaches were being closed to off-road vehicles as of 6 p.m. Wednesday; all other beaches in the seashore will close to off-road vehicles by 6 p.m. on Thursday.

At Cape Lookout, just south of Cape Hatteras, officials implemented their emergency weather evacuation plan. The seashore planned to evacuate all visitors from the seashore beginning on Thursday morning. The seashore will be closed to all visitors (including overnight guests staying in the cabins and day visitors) and all services will be shut down, beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday, and remain closed from that time on, until further notice, a park release said.

To allow staff to prepare seashore facilities for the storm, Portsmouth Village, the Light Station Visitor Center, Keepers’ Quarters Museum and Cape Lookout Lighthouse climbing were to close beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Comments

Great. Leaving for these parks two weeks from today. i hope they are still there when it's all over.

LOVED our vacation this year on Great Island. We are planning next year!! I hope our cabin is still there!!

What happens to the horses (ponies) on Shackleford Island? Are they evacuated? Can they swim to safer islands? This is going to be hard on the young foals. They can drown. Please inform me and others who have concerns about them, how the horses were affected by hurricane Irene.

A rough guess would be that they'd hunker down in the maritime forests on Shackleford and wait out the storm.

Erik: good luck. When Hatteras gets hit, it gets HIT. We've ridden out several hurricanes while vacationing there in the summers. I'm just hoping the Outer Banks are still there whenever I can make it back someday.