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Tropical Storm Michael’s Effects Reach State

At 2 p.m. Thursday, the center of Tropical Storm Michael was near latitude 35.7 degrees north, longitude 80 degrees west, or about 25 miles south of Greensboro. Graphic: National Hurricane Center

Updated at 2 p.m. Thursday

NEWPORT – Tropical storm-force winds were starting to buffet parts of eastern North Carolina early Thursday afternoon as the remnants of Hurricane Michael crossed the Piedmont.

At 2 p.m. Thursday, the center of Tropical Storm Michael was near latitude 35.7 degrees north, longitude 80 degrees west, or about 25 miles south of Greensboro, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and stronger gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center. Michael was moving toward the northeast at about 23 mph. The storm was expected to pick up speed Thursday night and into the weekend, making a turn toward the east-northeast.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles, mainly to the south and east of the center. A wind gust to 49 mph was reported at Wilmington.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline, forecasters warned. The surge could 2 to 4 feet above ground on the sound side of the Outer Banks from Ocracoke Inlet to Duck if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide.

Updated at 9 a.m. Thursday

NEWPORT – Michael is now a tropical storm as it heads toward inland areas of North Carolina, meaning less rainfall for the coast but a continued risk of moderate storm surge and winds.

The National Weather Service office in Newport said Michael will continue to move rapidly to the northeast Thursday before exiting the coast by early Friday morning. There’s still the threat of isolated tornadoes, flash flooding and tropical storm-force winds along the coast.

Storm surge of 2 to 4 feet above ground level is possible, especially from Hatteras village north. The most significant surge is still expected to be from Avon and Rodanthe northward, according to the Newport weather office’s Thursday morning briefing.

At 8 a.m. Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Michael was at 34.1 degrees north, 81.8 degrees west or about 40 miles west-northwest of Columbia, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of about 50 mph and moving northeast at about 21 mph.

Several of North Carolina’s coastal ferries were to make a single round trip Thursday morning before temporarily shutting down operations to prepare for storm conditions.

For the safety of passengers and ferry crews, the state’s ferries do not run during potentially unsafe weather conditions.

The ferries between Ocracoke, Cedar Island and Swan Quarter will run on the following schedules Thursday morning:

  • Cedar Island-to-Ocracoke Ferry will make runs at 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • Ocracoke-to-Cedar Island Ferry will make runs at 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • Ocracoke-to-Swan Quarter Ferry will make a run at 7 a.m. and then return to Ocracoke at 10 a.m.

After completing their runs, the ferries will be secured at their respective terminals until the storm passes. Officials with the North Carolina Ferry Division will announce when the ferries will resume operations.

Passengers can check on the status of the ferry route they want to use by contacting one of the ferry stations for that route on the NCDOT Ferry website.


Updated at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday

NEWPORT — The eye of Hurricane Michael has made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, with 155 mph maximum sustained winds, as North Carolina officials continue to sound the alarm about the storm’s expected effects here.

At 2 p.m. Eastern Time, the eye of Hurricane Michael was near latitude 30 degrees north, longitude 85.5 degrees west and moving toward the north-northeast at about 14 mph.

The National Weather Service office in Newport said Wednesday that North Carolina can expect 2-4 inches of rain, especially inland, with lesser amounts along the coast and the potential for moderate river flooding and flash flooding inland.

Storm surge inundation of 2 to 4 feet above ground is possible, mainly along the sound side of the Outer Banks and especially from Avon and Rodanthe to the north, along with minor inundation for oceanside areas Thursday through Friday but especially Thursday night. Moderate wind damage is expected.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that state emergency management officials are working with local and federal counterparts to prepare North Carolina for possible effects from the storm. Cooper activated 150 National Guard troops and urged state residents to prepare.

“The last thing people cleaning up from Florence need right now is more wind and rain. But this storm is coming, and we will be ready for it,” Gov. Cooper said.

State Emergency Management shared the following tips for preparing for the storm:

  • Build or restock your emergency supply kit.
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Follow weather reports closely.
  • Know the routes to leave your home if you’re asked to evacuate.
  • If authorities ask you to leave, do so quickly.

Brunswick County government offices are to be closed Thursday.

The New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center is set to begin operating in a partial activation at 7 a.m. Thursday, and staff were already coordinating with other local, state and federal agencies to be ready to help residents if necessary, as the area continues to recover from Hurricane Florence.

“Additional power outages may occur as a result of this storm,” said Emergency Management Director Steven Still. “So we encourage residents to be prepared. Have enough food, water and medication to last for two to three days.”

In Carteret County, officials at Cape Lookout National Seashore have announced that facilities there will close at 11 a.m. Thursday and remain closed until noon Friday.

The Carteret County Area Transportation System, or CCATS, will only transport medically necessary appointments on Thursday. All “Downtown and Around” fixed routes will be canceled Thursday. Riders can contact CCATS at 252-240-1043 to reschedule their Thursday appointments. CCATS will operate a normal schedule after 9 a.m. Friday


Updated at 11: a.m. Wednesday

NEWPORT – As Hurricane Michael approaches the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm, much of the North Carolina coast is now under a tropical storm warning.

Forecasters at the National Weather Center office in Newport said the earliest arrival of tropical storm-force winds would be sometime Thursday morning, but the most likely arrival would be Thursday afternoon. Conditions could result in power outages and felling of weaker trees and limbs. Tarps on roofs and debris piles from Hurricane Florence may blow around, forecasters said.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for the coast of North Carolina from the South Carolina line to Duck including the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. A storm surge watch has been issued from Ocracoke to Duck.

Forecasters said there is a moderate potential for flash flooding well inland, but rainfall amounts are not expected to cause widespread issues. Poor drainage issues are possible due to leftover debris from  Florence. The Newport office said there was now an increased but moderate risk of river flooding. A flash flood watch was issued for the entire region and some river flood warnings were in effect.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the eye of Hurricane Michael was located near latitude 29.4 degrees north, longitude 86 degrees west, or about 60 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida, and moving toward the north-northeast at about 14 mph. Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 145 mph with higher gusts.

Brunswick County has issued a burning ban effective 11 a.m. Wednesday. Fire Marshal Andrew Thompson said burning within 100 feet of any structure is banned within the unincorporated areas of the county. The county has declared a state of emergency, effective 8 a.m. Thursday.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for North Carolina.

Along with Brunswick County, Pender also has declared a local state of emergency, which went into effect noon Tuesday.

A state of emergency remains in effect for New Hanover County, continued since Hurricane Florence.


Original report below.

NEWPORT – Meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Newport said Tuesday that the risk of direct threats to eastern North Carolina from Hurricane Michael was increasing, despite uncertainty in the track forecast later this week.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the eye of Hurricane Michael was near latitude 25.4 degrees north, longitude 86.4 degrees west, or about 335 miles south of Panama City, Florida, and moving toward the north at about 12 mph with maximum sustained winds near 110 mph. Eastern Georgia, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia can expect rainfall amounts totaling 3 to 6 inches.

Forecasters said it was too soon to get specific about storm surge risks here, but the highest likelihood of moderate inundation would be the sound side of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. There is also a moderate risk of rainfall flooding across the region.

All of eastern North Carolina can expect moderately strong winds from the storm, with coastal areas most vulnerable to effects because the ground is still saturated and trees are weakened from Hurricane Florence.

Isolated tornadoes are possible across the region. There’s also a high threat of rip currents and dangerous surf that could produce minor to moderate beach erosion.

The earliest arrival of tropical storm-force winds here is likely Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.

Periods of heavy rain are expected Wednesday through Friday, with 2-4 inches of rain possible with locally higher amounts.

Brunswick County has declared a state of emergency, effective 8 a.m. Thursday and issued a voluntary evacuation for residents in unincorporated areas who live in low-lying or flood-prone areas or storm-damaged homes, also effective at 8 a.m. Thursday, ahead of the storm.

A pet-friendly shelter will open at West Brunswick High School at 550 Whiteville Road in Shallotte at 8 a.m. Thursday.

The shelter location is marked along with road hazards on Brunswick County’s road condition map.

Residents evacuating to a shelter should bring identification, any needed medications, any needed items like glasses or diapers, clothing for several days, pillows, toiletries, chargers for cell phones, and books, games or cards. Residents should bring sheets or bedding, and cots and air mattresses if available. Alcohol, illegal substances, and weapons are not permitted.

Residents who need assistance with evacuating should call the Brunswick County Emergency Operations Center at 910-253-5383.

Residents or businesses who suffered roof damage from Hurricane Florence need to secure tarps for tropical storm-force winds and heavy rainfall, county officials said.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.