Tropical storm warning issued for Outer Banks; 2nd storm moves in later this week

Posted August 29, 2016 6:52 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:38 p.m. EDT

— Two tropical depressions that formed Sunday in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico could have an impact on North Carolina's weather in the coming days, particularly at the coast.

Tropical depression eight was about 100 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras Monday afternoon and drifting slowly to the west. It has sustained winds of about 35 mph.

The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning Monday afternoon for Carteret, eastern Dare and eastern Hyde counties. WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said the storm could become a weak tropical storm on Monday before it scrapes by the coast on Tuesday and moves out to sea.

“Right now it should remain off shore, but close enough to bring some rainfall,” Maze said of the tropical depression.

The good news, said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel, is that the storm appeared to weaken Monday night.

'Now the Hurricane Center is only forecasting this to become a minimal storm," he said.

Dare County officials are closely monitoring the storm in the Outer Banks. Bobby Outten, the county's manager, said they are not expecting wind gusts above 55 miles per hour or more than six inches of rain. Officials are asking residents to bring their things inside, but school is still on as scheduled.

Officials expect some beach erosion and minor flooding in low-lying areas.

“There’s a reasonable likelihood in the next 24 to 72 hours we will have tropical force storm winds, 1-5 inches of rain, significant beach erosion and a very high risk of rip tides,” said Dave Hallac, Superintendent of Outer Banks National Parks.

Impending storm doesn’t scare beachgoers, business owners

With five million people the area each year, the Outer Banks is a popular vacation spot.

"We're not expecting much, if any, impact on our business," said Lee Nettles, the director of the Outer Banks' Visitor's Bureau. "Most visitors to the Outer Banks come for a longer period of time, not just for a weekend."

Eighty percent of the occupancy tax collected in the Outer Banks comes from home rentals, but since the typical visitor stays for about a week, business owners aren’t concerned that one rainy day will send beachgoers home.

“We get this all the time. This is just a little bit of a breeze, some wind, that’s it. Some rough seas some rain,” said restaurant cook Mary Lou Allen. “It will make our [business] better because they won’t be on the beach.”

Many on the Outer Banks remember what Hurricane Isabel did to Jeanette’s Pier in 2003, so the impending tropical depression is not a big deal in comparison.

“We saw Isabel when it hit, washed the pier away and everything,” Allen said. “We’re not scared.”

Since the storm is supposed to be fast moving, Aaron Tuell with the Outer Banks Visitor’s Bureau expects people will just stay and enjoy watching the storm.

“The Outer Banks gives you a pretty good front seat to mother nature. What you get out here that you may not get in the city is a horizon. You can see five to 10 miles out to sea, there’s water on both sides of the islands,” he said. “And it’s a really great place to take some cloud photography or just watch a thunder storm roll through.”

Vacationers agreed that one rainy day won’t send them running home.

“I’ve been coming here for years, so it’s just the way it is out here. I’ve been through a lot of Nor’easters and everything, so I’ve been coming here for 45 years. It’s ok,” said visitor Cindy Louden. “Hopefully it blows by quick and I can be back at the beach and out running around.

Second storm could impact Labor Day weekend

A second tropical depression that formed south of Florida Sunday afternoon will be worth watching later in the week as it moves through the Sunshine State and into the Atlantic Ocean.

The storm was situated between Cuba and Florida early Monday and is expected to strengthen into Tropical Storm Hermine as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm is expected to turn northeast and move across Florida by Thursday and then push back out into the Atlantic.

Maze said a cold front that is expected to move into the region ahead of the storm should minimize the impact it has on the coast.

“The thinking is, with the front in the area, there wouldn’t be a way that the storm could move into North Carolina so it will stay off shore,” he said.

[Watch more than a dozen "bonus" videos from the upcoming Fran documentary]