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just another perfect storm

Dune line breached Sunday 1:30 p.m. NC12 north of Black Pelican. Photo Lori Douglas Photography

Dune line breached Sunday 1:30 p.m. NC12 north of Black Pelican. Photo courtesy Lori Douglas Photography

The Perfect Storm 2015 is winding down, at least that’s what the forecasters are telling us—that by Wednesday the seas will calm down, the rains will go away and the winds will drop off to a manageable 15-20 mph.

It’s a storm we’ll probably remember. Sure, we dodged a hurricane, but this storm has lingered for days, the ocean has been assaulting the shoreline and the rains have been torrential—almost 5” in four days in Buxton and just a little bit less north of Oregon Inlet. Ocracoke village is swamped with soundside flooding and and visitor access is prohibited until further notice.

flooding on ocracoke

Flooding at Silver Lake harbor on Ocracoke. Photo by Crystal Canterbury, courtesy of the Ocracoke Current.

The early predictions that Hurricane Joaquin would visit us with class 2 or 3 winds and rain did not come to pass. Nonetheless, the storm has had a lot to say about the weather we’re experiencing. The moisture plumes that spun off the storm were picked up by a coastal low and funneled into the Carolinas. A high pressure system parked over Maine has added to the onshore winds and the result is obvious—days of pounding surf, gusting winds and a miserable few days.

The roads have held up remarkably well. Probably can’t tell that to the people in Kitty Hawk because the Beach Road north of Black Pelican has been wiped out again. The sandbags seem to have held but the ocean breached the dunes and undermined the road. The damage this time extended farther north than the repaired area from last spring, so it looks like a new retaining wall will have to be pounded into the sand and new sandbags placed.

NC 12 is also closed on the north end of Ocracoke, as the ocean rolling over the road has made it impassable.

The damage in Kitty Hawk underscores the urgency for beach nourishment. Kitty Hawk, along with Duck, Kill Devil Hills and Dare County are well into the permitting process for preserving their beaches and there’s a good argument to be made that a nourished beach would have protected the road.

Ben Sproul of Pivot Visuals made this great video using drone photography to illustrate that point, showing nourished beaches in Nags Head in comparison to beaches that have not been nourished. 

In many ways we got off easy here on the Outer Banks—there is damage, especially to some of our roads, and the beach in Kitty Hawk in particular has taken a beating, but we’ve dealt with that before and we’ll deal with it this time as well. There is no denying though the damage is insignificant compared to what South Carolina and some of the southern areas of North Carolina are enduring. We didn’t have to deal with 18-24” of rain — this time around.

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