Published: 2017-09-26 05:17:00
Updated: 2017-09-26 13:18:55
Posted September 26
Raleigh, N.C. — Hurricane Maria is expected to bring some tropical storm conditions to North Carolina's coast on Tuesday and Wednesday as the offshore system continues north.
According to WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss, central North Carolina will not feel the storm's effects, but areas along the coast could endure 8 to 10 foot waves, wind gusts between 40 and 75 mph and up to 3 inches of rain.
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The storm is currently spinning southeast of North Carolina and moving slowly to the north.
"Hopefully, Maria's distance from land will keep the impacts fairly minimal, but there will be some impacts," said Moss. The chance for severe weather is greatest late Tuesday into Wednesday, and rip currents and beach erosion could continue through Thursday.
A tropical storm warning is in effect along the coast from just west of Cape Lookout all the way up toward the Virginia border. According to Moss, the primary impacts will probably be over the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds and along the Outer Banks.
Hyde County and Dare County issued mandatory visitor evacuation orders for Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island on Monday and the final ferries were scheduled to depart from the islands at 11 p.m. Monday. "We need to get everyone off before the winds get to a point where the ferries can't operate," said Tim Hass with the DOT.
Authorities said the evacuation could affect about 12,000 tourists between the two islands and, during the worst part of the storm, Department of Transportation officials say they expect Highway 12 to be over-washed from both the ocean and sound.
• Rip current safety tips
One of the biggest worries for those who own property is storm surge.
"It tends to go down the streets and it gets a little aggressive," said Laura Burke, a Raleigh resident who owns property in Rodanthe. Dare County Schools announced classes would be canceled on Tuesday as a result of the impending storm.
Defenses in the area are already down after Hurricane Jose passed by last week.
"A lot of those dunes were compromised when Jose passed by. Since Jose left, we have had crews trying to reconstruct those dunes, but a lot of those dunes are still compromised. That means, with Maria following almost the exact same path, we are going to get some of the same problems, only without that protection there," said Hass.
Resident Kay Knowels plans to stay put during the storm to keep an eye on her property.
'If you leave, most times you can't get back," she said.
A tropical storm watch was upgraded to a warning on Monday for areas from Cape Lookout to Duck, including the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. A tropical storm watch and storm surge watch remains for Surf City to Cape Lookout and north of Duck.
"If you're heading down to the coast, you may not want to get into the water until after Thursday or Friday," Maze said.
The Category 1 storm continues to weaken and became less organized as it moves into waters cooled by Tropical Storm Jose. By Thursday, the storm will move out to sea and away from the North Carolina coast.
"From that point in time, conditions will be improving along the east coast of the United States," said Moss.