State News

Weak Danny churning up surf off Outer Banks

Posted August 28, 2009 5:13 a.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2009 11:43 p.m. EDT

— Tropical Storm Danny weakened over the Atlantic into early Saturday morning but continued to produce deadly rip currents.

Two women were killed in a parasailing accident at Ocean Isle Beach on Friday afternoon when they were swept underwater after the cable on their parasail snapped. A third person was rescued in the accident, authorities said. The incident is under investigation.

At the north end of the Outer Banks, the U.S. Coast Guard searched the waters off Corolla Friday for a 12-year-old boy who went missing in the choppy surf. Scott Hembrook of the Coast Guard said the boy, whose name wasn't released, was boogie-boarding at about 10:45 a.m. when his mother saw the board wash up onto the beach but saw no sign of her son.

The search for the boy was suspended Friday night.

At 11 p.m., Danny was about 265 miles south of Cape Hatteras, moving north-northeast at 12 mph.

"There is no chance that this is going to intensify as it passes North Carolina," Meteorologist Mike Maze said. "As we go through the night it should be paralleling our coast."

The storm's maximum sustained winds decreased to 40 mph, with higher gusts. Danny would become a tropical depression if its wind speeds dropped to 38 mph.

"It is a very, very unhealthy system," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said, noting that all of the storm activity and tropical storm-force winds were to the east of the system's center.

A northward turn early Saturday was expected to take the storm center past the Outer Banks overnight and then to southeastern New England and the Canadian Maritimes by early Sunday.

Forecasts called for Danny to have winds around 50 mph, when it passes off the coast early Saturday.

"Unless we get some thunderstorm activity to form closer to the center, there will never be gale-force or tropical storm-force winds – or gusts, for that matter – along the Outer Banks," Fishel said. "We could really get off easy with this one."

Still, a tropical storm watch remained in effect from Cape Lookout north to Duck, including the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.

Rip currents and some beach erosion were the primary threats from the storm, forecasters said.

"If you're headed to the beach this weekend, the weather's probably going to be fine, but you want to stay out of the surf," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

Red flags warning people to stay out of the water were flying at many North Carolina beaches, from Wrightsville Beach north along the Outer Banks.

Business owners along the coast said the one-two punch of Hurricane Bill last weekend followed by Danny this weekend caused more serious erosion to the late-summer tourist season.

"When they were hollering so much about (the storm) coming at us, there's no doubt in my mind that people canceled (vacations) when they could, especially weekend visitors," Dare County Commissioner Allen Burress said.

Fisherman Justin Curcio said he was pulling in a final catch Friday afternoon to wait out the waves until Danny passed.

"If it's pouring down rain, thundering and lightning, that's just how it is. You've got to go when you can go," Curcio said.