Wind, waves wash over Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach
Posted September 2, 2016
Wilmington, N.C. — Tropical Storm Hermine stirred up surf and dropped drenching rain along the coast of the southeastern United States Friday, on a course from Florida to the Outer Banks.
For tourists, residents and businesses in North Carolina's coastal counties, it added up to a washout at the beginning of Labor Day weekend.
"It's a bit of a bummer," said Cody Shankman.
Instead of swimming, Shankman and his fraternity brothers stayed on the sand for a game of football Friday afternoon and fought to pass against winds that gusted to 45 mph.
"It's a low-scoring game so far," he said. "I would say it's a running game right now."
Elsewhere on the beach, Jamison White could only watch as the waves churned.
"It can pull in humans, too," he said from his perch of safety.
Visitors were ordered off Ocracoke Island on Thursday afternoon, and by late Friday the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division suspended service to wait out the high winds driven by Hermine.
Several secondary roads in Wilmington were flooded.
Anywhere from 2 to 10 inches of rain was possible through Saturday at mid-day when the storm was forecast to swerve back out to sea.
A flash flood watch was in effect for New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties through Saturday morning.
Hermine quickly weakened to a tropical storm as it spun through Georgia and the Carolinas. But the National Hurricane Center predicted it would regain hurricane strength after emerging in the Atlantic Ocean. The system could then lash coastal areas as far north as Connecticut and Rhode Island through Labor Day.
"Anyone along the U.S. East Coast needs to be paying close attention this weekend," said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.
Closings, cancellations and postponements up and down Atlantic coast
The Fort Fisher State Historic Site near Wilmington and the Moores Creek National Battlefield closed Friday.
A fireworks show planned for the coastal community of Carolina Beach was postponed from Friday until Saturday.
Officials at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on the Outer Banks warned that dangerous rip currents were affecting beaches all along the seashore.
Gov. Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency in 33 counties in the eastern part of the state.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday closed the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in south Georgia. The refuge, directly in Hermine's path, features vast swamplands inhabited by alligators. Spokesman Tom McKenzie said falling trees could prove dangerous to gators and other wildlife.
The National Park Service closed Georgia's Cumberland Island to visitors until Saturday morning. The barrier island is home to roughly 15 miles of federally protected wilderness. It's reachable only by boat.
The National Hurricane Center has placed the southern half of Georgia's 100-mile coast under a tropical storm watch.
All Savannah-Chatham Public School and administrative offices are closed.
Several college campuses also have closed as a precaution. They are Albany State University and Darton State College, and their satellite locations in Cairo and Cordele. Valdosta State and Georgia Southern also canceled all scheduled classes for Friday. Albany and Darton will reopen Tuesday.
A rally planned for Saturday in Fayetteville for Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence was also canceled.
Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for 56 counties in parts of south, central and coastal Georgia.
In Savannah, the Bacon Fest, originally a three-day event from Friday through Sunday, will be held on Saturday and Sunday. And the Craft Brew Fest planned for outdoors has been moved inside the trade and convention center.
With tropical storm warnings in effect, public schools from Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head were closed as forecasters predicted as much as 5 inches of rain as the storm moved through.
The Citadel and the College of Charleston canceled classes and Joint Base Charleston, which consists of the Charleston Air Force Base and the Charleston Naval Weapons Station, also closed though essential personnel were asked to report to the base.
Local governments also closed their offices. South Carolina state offices closed in eight counties on or near the coast.
NASCAR postponed all track activity Friday and canceled qualifying for its Sprint Cup and Xfinity races at Darlington Raceway.
Ferry boats that take visitors to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor where the Civil War began were not running Friday, and the national monument was to close at noon.
The popular open-air City Market in downtown Charleston, a must-see for millions of visitors to Charleston each year, also was closed Friday. The market is in an area that generally floods during heavy rains.
The Beach Boogie and BBQ Festival in Myrtle Beach was canceled for Friday evening but will be held Saturday.
Also, the Dorn Veteran Administration Medical Center in Columbia canceled appointments for several clinics ahead of the storm.
Old Dominion and Norfolk State universities have postponed their Saturday football home openers until Sunday because of the storm.
Old Dominion is scheduled to host Hampton University. Elizabeth City State University is set to visit Norfolk State.
Forecasters say the storm could bring heavy rains and high winds to the region on Saturday afternoon and evening.
Sails in Lewes, Delaware, aboard a replica of the colonial ship Kalmar Nyckel have been canceled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
New York City public beaches will be closed to swimming on Sunday, and possibly Monday and Tuesday, because of the danger of rip tides associated with the storm. High waves and heavy rain also are forecast for Long Island and New York City on Sunday evening.