N.C. beach-goers urged to stay out of ocean

Posted August 22, 2009 1:42 p.m. EDT
Updated August 23, 2009 3:36 p.m. EDT

— Carteret County Emergency Services, along with Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, urged all beach-goers to stay out of the water Saturday "due to dangerous rip currents and high surf advisories associated with Hurricane Bill."

Meanwhile, the Hyde County Sheriff’s Department closed Highway 12, north of the Ocracoke Pony Pens, for a short time Saturday when the road became impassable with over wash and sand.

Emergency management officials along North Carolina’s Outer Banks also felt the effects of Hurricane Bill, even though the storm passed by hundreds of miles out to sea.

As Hurricane Bill moves off to the north, into cooler water, a high surf advisory remains in effect along the North Carolina coast, WRAL meteorologist Kim Deaner said Saturday evening.

WRAL's Dan Bowens is reporting LIVE from the Outer Banks. Watch his reports on newscasts on WRAL-TV and FOX50.

"Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle have red flagged their beaches for safety," wrote Jo Ann Smith, director of Carteret Emergency Services.

The National Weather Service also warned of high surf and risk of rip currents all along the east coast.

"What worries me, is someone (who knows what) they are doing and can handle that kind of surf paddles out, and then someone that's more novice paddles out behind them, thinking they can handle it also, and that gets them into trouble,” said Capt. Larry Grubb, with the Chicamacomico Fire Department.

Waves up to 16 feet were possible at Cape Hatteras as Hurricane Bill passed by.

"Those swells are known to be deadly," said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. "It's just going to be very dangerous this weekend."

EMS officials said they had a few search and rescue calls from surfers along the Outer Banks Saturday but nothing serious.

"The only real adventure we would have with this storm would be the ocean surge. That is always a real big destroyer of things around here,” Outer Banks resident Charles Poe said.

Frisco Mo, caretaker of a house made popular by the movie '"Nights in Rodanthe," had just reopened the beach home to rentals after years of doing repairs from past storms. Then Hurricane Bill shut the house down once again on Saturday.

"I’m getting a little worn out. I’m kind of depressed over the whole thing. I had it beautiful two days ago. Now, I’m back to below zero somewhere," Mo said.

Support beams at Avon Pier, one of Cape Haterras' most frequented locations, were knocked out by Bill's force.

"I hate to see houses fall down and people losing property, but it is nature and how can you not love nature?” vacationer Paula Sonnenberg asked.

Bill is the first Atlantic hurricane this year after a quiet start to the season that runs from June through November. The Miami center lowered its Atlantic hurricane outlook on Aug. 6 after no named tropical storms developed in the first two months.

The revised prediction was for three to six hurricanes, with one or two becoming major storms with winds over 110 mph. Researchers at Colorado State University have also lowered their Atlantic season forecast to four hurricanes, two of them major.