Hurricanes

After Dorian, coronavirus, Arthur's blast another blow to Outer Banks

Posted May 13, 2020 7:22 a.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2020 5:30 p.m. EDT

— Tropical Storm Arthur brought more than 5 inches of rain to parts of North Carolina's coast Monday morning, but heavy rains and high winds had diminished by afternoon.

The timing of the storm, weeks before the official start of hurricane season and as coronavirus-related lockdowns were starting to lift, was especially troublesome to Gary Oliver, who decided to shut down the Outer Banks Fishing Pier for the day.

This weekend marked the first time since March 17 that visitors could return to the Outer Banks, and Oliver reeled in a big catch.

"We had a lot of people out there – people catching fish, leaving with buckets of fish, everybody smiling, everybody happy," Oliver said.

In between rain showers, Samantha Heath and her mother, Gaynelle Sihton, took the opportunity to put their toes in the sand. They weren't about to let a storm blow their day trip plans to Nags Head. Tired of stay-home orders, Sihton brought along her two grandsons from Greenville.

"She gave me a trip to the Outer Banks for Mother's Day, and three generations, here we are."

After Hurricane Dorian last fall and the coronavirus stay-at-home order, it can seem like this community can't catch a break.

"You've got to pay the price to live in paradise," Erin Simasky said.

Strong winds, minimal damage from Arthur in Outer Banks

By 11 a.m., the National Hurricane Center showed Arthur passing just southeast of Cape Hatteras. While tropical storm warnings continued into the afternoon for the Outer Banks, minimal damage was reported on land.

"The strongest wind gusts will remain offshore, but some gusts of 40-50 mph will be possible over the Outer Banks for the next couple of hours," WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said.

Some overwash briefly closed on N.C. Highway 12 in Dare County and U.S. Highway 17 in Craven County. Some limited power outages were reported, according to North Carolina Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry.

The highest wind gusts reported on shore were 43 mph winds at Cherry Point in Craven County. The highest rainfall report so far was 5.44 inches in Cape Carteret.

Wilmington and Carolina Beach began seeing heavy rain and crashing waves in the overnight hours as Arthur moved northeast. By 7 or 8 a.m., Emerald Isle and the Outer Banks were feeling the effects of the storm.

WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said Wilmington and Carolina Beach saw heavy rain and crashing waves early Monday before the Outer Banks received the worst of Arthur when the storm made its closest pass to the coast.

The storm's impacts included strong rip currents, scattered storms winds between 35-45 mph and localized storm surge up to 2 feet. Much of the Outer Banks saw up to 4 inches of rain, while some areas saw more.

The prospect of dangerous surf and rip currents will continue through midweek, Sprayberry said, warning beachgoers to practice awareness.

While the Triangle saw only light rain from Arthur, the cold front that will cause Arthur to turn east and move back out to the Atlantic will bring us more rain Monday night and much of the work week.

Tropical Storm Arthur is the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins June 1.

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