By Sam Walker on January 18, 2013A winter storm that moved through the area Thursday caused rapid shoaling of the channel across Hatteras Inlet, forcing the N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division to indefinitely shut down operations of the route between Hatteras and Ocracoke.
“Extremely high winds (Thursday) night caused the ferry channel at markers number 9 and 10 to shoal over and become impassable,” said a statement from Lucy Wallace, ferry division communications officer.
“The Ferry Division has been in contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who will survey the channel as soon as possible.”
Wallace added that Ocracoke residents and vendors carrying necessary goods and commodities will be toll- exempt using the Swan Quarter or Cedar Island routes.
“In the meantime, an extra run is being added to the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route starting Saturday,” Wallace said.
Additional departures will take place from Ocracoke at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m. from Swan Quarter.
“The extra departures and toll exempt status will continue until the Hatteras ferry channel resumes operations, just like in previous emergency situations,” Wallace said. “The division will monitor traffic and if additional departures are needed, schedules will be further adjusted.”
Ferry service has been suspended on a daily basis for the last several weeks at low tide due to the on-going shoaling in Rollinson Channel since Hurricane Sandy in October, back-to-back nor’easters and a number of winter wind storms in recent weeks.
The Army Corps of Engineers started a dredging project in the channel earlier this month but has not reached the troublesome hot spots. Wallace said it could be several weeks before the dredging fixes the problem.