Expect at least one more day of rough surf from Hermine

By on September 5, 2016

Hermine’s waves left little room for a stroll on the beach. But they didn’t stop this angler on the Nags Head Fishing Pier. (Rob Morris)

Heading into the ocean will continue to be risky Tuesday as Hermine pumps swells onto Outer Banks beaches.

Although wave action will be diminishing, the National Weather Service is warning of a high threat of rip currents and dangerous shore breaks.

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The center of the storm rumbled into northeastern North Carolina just before dawn Saturday with heavy rain and winds peaking at more than 55 mph.

Downed trees and flooding were common throughout northeastern North Carolina, but the worst effects seemed to be in in Dare, Tyrrell and Currituck counties.

Sunday at Bodie Island Lighthouse. (Daniel Elk)

A tractor-trailer driver was killed when his rig was blown onto the railing of the Lindsay C. Warren Bridge over the Alligator River, Tyrrell County Sheriff Darryl Liverman said. The bridge was closed most of the day and reopened at 5 p.m., Liverman said.

Another accident, also involving a tractor-trailer, partially closed the Virginia Dare Bridge at Manns Harbor for several hours, according to the State Highway Patrol.

The heaviest downpours were overnight Friday and Saturday. Rainfall for 24 hours through 7 a.m. Saturday added up to 6.1 inches in Duck, 6.07 inches in Manteo and 5.66 inches in Kill Devil Hills, according to the National Weather Service in Morehead City.

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In Southern Shores, members of the Volunteer Fire Department spent Saturday clearing the town’s narrow roads. On Sunday, homeowners were busy cleaning up debris from yards.

Limbs and sawed-up sections of tree trunks lined roadsides. Foliage shredded by the wind covered the pavement in wooded neighborhoods.

On Sunday, Hyde County lifted the mandatory evacuation for visitors on Ocracoke Island that restricted ferry access.

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N.C. 12 at Lillian Street, where the dune has been breached in previous storms, is closed, but sandbags installed last year seem to be doing their job.

Ocean overwash and erosion will still be a problem. (Rob Morris)

When Hermine steamed in at around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, the Duck Research Pier clocked a gust of 60 mph. Area buoys were measuring wave heights averaging around 12 feet. At Oregon Inlet, the peak height was 14 feet at 5:30 a.m.

Ninety minutes later, the wind virtually died. Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head registered a wind speed of 24 mph from the south. In Manteo, the National Weather Service reported winds of just 7 mph near sunrise.

That, plus some bursts of sunshine, brought people out to watch huge waves hammering the beach and sending clouds of seafoam toward the dunes.

The lull lasted about 4 hours, then the wind picked up again from the north on the backside of the storm’s circulation. At 11 a.m., the Duck pier was recording wind speeds of 67 mph with a peak gust of 78 mph. Winds at Jennette’s were clocking in at a steady 46 mph.

Hermine delivered a bigger punch than expected with the wind shift. Soundside surge sent 5 feet of water into some communities on the south end of Hatteras Island, a Dare County statement said.

Surf reached about 9 feet in Nags Head and seas offshore were up to 20 feet.

Dangerous shore break and rip currents will continue to be a problem at least through Tuesday. Otherwise, sunny and pleasant days are ahead.

Hermine formed in the Gulf Mexico a week ago and swept up the Southeast coast before heading out to sea off the Outer Banks.

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