A series of natural forces is aligning off North Carolina, and weather experts predict the combined impact will include days of flooding, powerful swells and dangerous rip currents along the Outer Banks.
Chief among these forces is Hurricane Earl, which will reach “major hurricane intensity” as it passes the East Coast from Thursday, Sept. 8, through Saturday, Sept. 10, according to the National Weather Service.
Earl won’t make landfall in the U.S., but its chaotic impact on the ocean will overlap with a full moon and king tides, which occur when the orbits of the earth, moon and sun align to create “the greatest tidal effects of the year.”
“Strong, long-period swells from distant Hurricane Earl will be arriving along the North Carolina coast over the next few days,” according to Cape Lookout National Seashore.
“In addition, the moon will be at perigee (the closest to the Earth in its orbit) on Sept. 7 and the full moon will occur on Saturday, Sept. 10. … The combination of the swells and elevated tides will bring water higher on the beaches than it would during a regular high tide.”
The National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood advisory for North Carolina through 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9.
Up to 2 feet of water could cover “low-lying areas near shorelines and tidal waterways” and it will be combined with dangerous swells. Anyone visiting the coast is advised to stay out of the ocean, the weather service says.
“Those that enter the water will put not just themselves at risk, but also the lives of ocean rescue personnel,” Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson said in a Sept 8 news release.
“With off season staffing levels in place, help may not be able to get to those that enter the water and find themselves in peril in time.”
Hurricane Earl has sustained winds of 105 mph as of 8 a.m. Thursday, and its “storm-force winds” can be felt as far as 160 miles away, officials say. The storm will be nearly 1,000 miles off North Carolina as it passes south of Bermuda early Friday, forecasters say. It will then continue north, toward Canada.
The fact it won’t make landfall in North Carolina does not make the storm less dangerous, officials said.
“In 2019, Hurricane Lorenzo killed more people in Eastern North Carolina (4) than Hurricane Dorian,” according to the National Weather Service Office in Morehead City.
“Never heard of Lorenzo? The storm passed more than 2,000 miles away from our coast.”
This story was originally published September 8, 2022 10:35 AM.
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