NEWPORT — Local National Weather Service meteorologists are forecasting a weekend coastal storm that may bring hazardous conditions to Carteret County.
Due to the forecast, the N.C. Department of Transportation is warning motorists in eastern North Carolina the storm forecast to hit the area starting Friday night could affect travel on Highway 12 on the Outer Banks and cause roads to flood in some coastal areas throughout the weekend.
The NWS Weather Forecasting Office in Newport issued a briefing at 6 a.m. Friday on the storm forecast for this weekend. According to the briefing, the storm may impact the entire county, as well as a significant portion of the North Carolina coast.
The NWS forecasts the potential for life-threatening coastal flooding, 2-4 feet above ground, as well as high surf, beach erosion and ocean overwash Saturday through Monday. These threats are most likely on the oceanside areas north of Cape Lookout National Seashore and sound-side areas adjacent to southern Pamlico Sound. High surf is likely north of Cape Lookout, with the most significant effects expected north of Cape Hatteras.
From Saturday through Sunday, widespread power outages are possible in coastal areas, due to high wind. Winds are expected to be strongest near the coast.
Friday night through Monday, storm-force winds and dangerous seas are forecast for all coastal waters, sounds and rivers. Friday through Sunday, locally heavy rain and minor flooding are possible in all coastal areas.
Peak wind gusts in the Carteret County area are expected to average about 56 mph, as forecast for Beaufort. A wind advisory is in effect for the western side of Carteret County, while a high wind warning is in effect for the eastern side, in particular the Down East region.
Total precipitation in Carteret County is forecast to range from 3-4 inches in the western part of the county, 4-6 inches in Morehead City and the eastern part of the county, with a small area in the far northeast of the county forecast to receive 6-8 inches.
The Newport WFO posts forecasts, watches, warnings and other information at its website www.weather.gov/mhx/. Information is also made available on its Facebook page www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity/ and on Twitter at @NWSMoreheadCity.
Meanwhile, the NDCOT said drivers should avoid traveling through standing or rushing water and should not drive around barricades or road-closed signs. These are put in place for peoples’ protection, the department says. Most flood-related drownings occur when someone drives through standing or rushing water.
The powerful storm is forecast to strike the Outer Banks and eastern North Carolina starting Friday night and lasting through Sunday night. The storm is forecast to bring 30-50 mph sustained winds, high surf and 2-3 inches of rain to the Outer Banks and other areas of coastal North Carolina, including Morehead City.
Officials expect significant overwash on Highway 12, the Outer Banks’ main thoroughfare, on Pea Island and Kitty Hawk. Depending on the storm surge and overwash, portions of Highway 12 could be closed for extended periods during high tide cycles over the next few days. Officials are also expecting significant storm surge along the sounds in Carteret County, Pamlico County and the Cedar Island area.
Transportation crews have been staging motor graders and other equipment on Pea Island in advance of the storm and will have crews on call ready to respond to assess road conditions and clear sand-covered roads when conditions permit. Forecasters expect the system to move offshore Sunday into Monday morning.