Weather

Storm off Southeast coast heads for Carolinas

Posted September 25, 2008
Updated September 26, 2008

— An intense low-pressure system kicked up rough surf, caused minor flooding and knocked out power to thousands of homes in Virginia as it lumbered toward the Carolinas late Thursday.

The storm's center was just off the coast near North Myrtle Beach, S.C., at 11 p.m. EDT.

“The system is headed very close to the North Carolina-South Carolina border and should finally move inland in a few hours. We will continue to get rain and some stiff breezes around the Triangle well into Friday,” WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said late Thursday.

Wind advisories were in effect Thursday evening for parts of North Carolina and gusts were expected to be more than 40 mph.

Light rain fell across parts of the Triangle Thursday afternoon, and periods of heavy rain and possibly isolated thunderstorms were forecast for the evening, when the storm moves inland, bringing up to 1.5 inches of rain to the area by Friday morning.

Temperatures Friday will be around 60, with more showers in the afternoon and highs in the upper 60s to low 70s, Fishel said.

The storm forced Nags Head officials to condemn about a dozen coastal homes and it knocked out power to a few others.

“I was in bed. There wasn't a whole lot else you could do. No lights, so what do you do?” Kill Devil Hills resident Dick Henchey said.

The strong storm also left the driver of a Sports Utility Vehicle stranded.

“I would think they'd have a little better sense than to be out there (on the beach) in this kind of weather. Actually there is no beach,” Nags Head resident TJ Jones said.

Witnesses say the driver was motoring down the beach when the SUV got swept away in the surf.

“You see this kind of stuff down on the beach near Oregon Inlet all the time during the summer. Folks driving out (and) getting their jeep stuck. You don't see too many of them like this in a storm," Jones said.

The vehicle was eventually towed out of the water. Nags Head police say the driver was cited for driving on the beach while it was closed.

In Wrightsville Beach, vacationers Bill and Linda Schweikert from Stow, Ohio, snapped photos of gray, head-high waves in brisk 30-mph winds.

"Lake Erie doesn't do this very often," said Linda Schweikert, 62, a retired teacher. "It is pretty."

"Once the center of the storm does get over land it will start to lose its punch," Steve said. "But it's a bad idea to key too much on the center of the storm because the affects are being felt far away from the center."

Minor flooding was reported along the coast from South Carolina to Virginia, with the storm stirring a nighttime high tide and dumping as much as 3.6 inches of rain.

"The effects of it are being felt from the Southeast in Florida all the way to the Northeast," said forecaster Rick Neuherz at the Wilmington weather bureau.

A movie premier of "Nights in Rodanthe" went on as scheduled on the Outer Banks on Wednesday night for locals who were extras in the film, said tourism bureau chief Carolyn McCormick.

The storm also caused flooding and power outages in portions of Hampton Roads, Va., and prompted restrictions on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

About 6,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday, most from Norfolk to Virginia Beach. High water closed streets and bridges along some coastal towns.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Kyle formed Thursday in the Atlantic about 645 miles south of Bermuda. The storm is headed to the north and could strengthen in the next couple of days, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

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