Tornado watch posted as Michael sprints across the state

By on October 11, 2018

Water levels are already up along the soundside of the Outer Banks. Forecasts call for up to 4 feet of surge around midnight. (Sam Walker)

After plowing across the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and South Carolina, what was Hurricane Michael is sprinting into North Carolina with tropical storm force winds, heavy rain and the possibility of tornadoes.

The storm’s center is forecast to pass inland of the Outer Banks as its being tossed by a cold front into the Atlantic Ocean Friday morning off Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

While the highest rainfall totals are predicted to be over central and western North Carolina, there remains a threat of soundside flooding from Avon northward as winds pick up from the south and west through Thursday.

A tornado watch has been posted for eastern North Carolina until 9 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service office in Newport/Morehead City, due to a threat of isolated tornadoes being spawned from Michael’s rain bands.

N.C. regional radar

The latest prediction has southerly winds at near tropical storm strength that will transition to the southwest and then to the west as Michael moves rapidly.

The strongest winds are expected near the coast and areas adjacent to the sounds. Winds along the coast could gust from 50 to 60 mph, while inland areas could see gusts of 40 to 50 mph.

Based on the current forecast track, minor inundation of 1 to 3 feet above ground level will be possible with local amounts of 2 to 4 feet above ground on the sound side north of Buxton Thursday night and early Friday.

Forecasters say the predicted forward motion of the storm is expected to limit the amount of time for water to pile up along the soundside from Avon to Corolla.

They cautioned that a slight shift in the track could change which locations may see the most inundation.

Minor beach erosion and overwash will be possible as well due to wave run up.

The threat of rip currents is already high and will remain elevated until well after the storm passes through.

Beachgoers should remain out of the ocean as conditions are dangerous for even the most experienced swimmers, due to both the rip current risk and dangerous shorebreak.

Dangerous marine conditions are also expected offshore, with seas of 10 to 20 feet.

The storm made landfall around midday Wednesday at Mexico Beach, Fla. as a strong category 4 system, with sustained winds of 155 mph.

Michael had the third lowest barometric pressure, 919 millibars, for a storm making landfall in the United States in recorded history.

The National Park Service announced the Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, Frisco, and Ocracoke Campgrounds will close today at 6:00 pm. The campgrounds will reopen after the Tropical Storm Warning for the area is lifted.

Ferry service between Ocracoke and the mainland has been suspended after this morning’s runs. The Hatteras Inlet route will continue operations as long as conditions allow.

Manteo High School has postponed homecoming activities to Saturday, including the football game versus Camden.

Currituck County Schools will release students one hour early and cancelled after school activities on Thursday.

Jennette’s Pier will be closing at 6 p.m. on Thursday, and reopen at 8 a.m. Friday. Hyde County government offices are closed for the day, and plan to reopen on a normal schedule Friday.

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