Tropical Storm Ophelia Hits North Carolina and Heads Up the East Coast

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Ophelia arrived ashore in proximity to Emerald Isle, North Carolina, during the early hours of Saturday, manifesting as a formidable tropical tempest. This tempestuous entity has already wrought havoc, extinguishing the power supply for multitudes with its potent gales, accompanied by torrents of rainfall and inundations inundating regions along the East Coast that extend far beyond the epicenter of the tempest’s fury. Tropical Storm Ophelia is presently unleashing robust gusts of wind, torrents of precipitation, and surges of floodwaters upon the coastal territories of North Carolina and Virginia, where communities currently find themselves ensnared within the clutches of power blackouts.

Tropical Storm Ophelia: North Carolina landfall and its path along the East Coast - real-time updates.
Waves break along the jetty at Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, Va., on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 as Tropical Storm Ophelia approaches the area.

The prognosis anticipates that the tempest will disseminate copious volumes of precipitation across an extensive expanse of the mid-Atlantic, spanning Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. This meteorological tumult commenced its meteoric ascent on Saturday morning, and its tumultuous reign shall persist unabated through the entire weekend.

Nevertheless, the coastal regions of North Carolina are poised to absorb the brunt of the tempest’s impact, as this expansive meteorological phenomenon teeters on the precipice of an imminent landfall early on Saturday, according to declarations emanating from the National Hurricane Center. Currently positioned approximately 25 miles to the southwest of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, Ophelia flaunts a pinnacle of sustained winds whirling at an approximate velocity of 70 mph, as pronounced by the hurricane center at 5 a.m. ET on the aforementioned Saturday. This tempestuous entity is engaged in a gradual northward trajectory along the Eastern Seaboard over the course of the weekend, progressively diminishing in potency subsequent to its encounter with terra firma.

In the early hours of Saturday, a disconcerting tally of approximately 52,000 residences and business establishments across North Carolina and Virginia grappled with the distressing absence of electrical power, as corroborated by the utility tracking platform,

Certain locales in the eastern expanse of North Carolina and the southeastern reaches of Virginia may be subjected to an accumulation of precipitation ranging between 3 to 5 inches, with select areas contending with the prospect of up to 7 inches, extending through Sunday’s morn.

The hurricane center has issued an admonition that underscores the fusion of a menacing storm surge and tidal forces, precipitating inundation in areas typically desiccated along the coastline, as a result of waters surging inland. Additionally, it is imperative to monitor the tempest’s progression closely:
• A hurricane watch encompasses regions north of Surf City, North Carolina, extending as far as Ocracoke Inlet. Furthermore, the state has invoked a state of emergency.
• The menace of storm surges looms large, as storm surge watches and warnings have been activated, spanning from Surf City, North Carolina, to the Chesapeake Bay. A storm surge eventuates when the vigorous propulsions of wind confer elevation upon water levels, driving their ingress towards the shoreline. Commencing on the eve of Friday, water levels embarked upon an ascendant trajectory in certain coastal vicinities within North Carolina.
• The vulnerability to abrupt flooding has escalated significantly during the nocturnal hours within eastern North Carolina, as underscored by the state’s department for emergency management. Projections indicate an ineluctable surge in water levels along the Pamlico and Neuse rivers.
• In terms of precipitation, other states nestled within the mid-Atlantic corridor stand to collect between 2 to 4 inches of rainfall commencing on the eve of Saturday night and persisting through Sunday. In tandem, southern New York through southern New England are slated to witness an infusion of precipitation ranging between 1 to 3 inches, the commencement of which is earmarked for the outset of Saturday, extending through the course of Monday.

Tracking Ophelia:

Tropical Storm Ophelia Hits North Carolina and Heads Up the East Coast

On the eve of Friday, communities hugging the coastline of North Carolina had already commenced contending with the inundation of roadways. Notably, coastal Cedar Island witnessed the accrual of standing water upon Highway 12, albeit with the continued feasibility of passage, as articulated by the state’s department of transportation. “But please, just go out tonight if it is really essential, they cautioned. The thoroughfare is presently coated with sand and water, an environment rendered obscure by the encompassing darkness and tempestuous conditions,” as conveyed through a social media post disseminated by the department.

Meanwhile, in New Bern, a city situated along the confluence of two rivers in North Carolina, positioned approximately 120 miles east of Raleigh, thoroughfares succumbed to inundation. Water progressively infiltrated inland as the water levels escalated within the downtown precincts, as documented by municipal authorities via a Facebook announcement. Images uploaded to the city’s official page vividly illustrate the submergence of a children’s park and the serendipitous voyage of ducks meandering along the street atop floodwaters.

Ophelia’s trajectory charts a course through eastern North Carolina, subsequently threading its passage through the southeastern domains of Virginia, before embarking on a northerly traverse across the Delmarva Peninsula on Saturday and Sunday, as expounded by the hurricane center. Noteworthy is the reach of tropical storm-force winds, extending outward in a radial fashion up to a span of 300 miles from Ophelia’s epicenter, as corroborated by the hurricane center. Additionally, scattered pockets of the coastal mid-Atlantic confront the potential emergence of tornadoes.

In the state of Maryland, the governor has issued a proclamation of emergency in anticipation of the anticipated consequences of this meteorological tempest. The governor, Wes Moore, has implored residents to exercise discretion and to refrain from venturing outdoors during the duration of the tempest’s incursion. He cautioned, “We anticipate an extended period of sustained gales, copious precipitation, and elevated tidal conditions.”

Tropical Storm Ophelia Hits North Carolina and Heads Up the East Coast
A driver navigates a flooded highway in Cedar Island, North Carolina, on Friday, September, 22, as Tropical Storm Ophelia approached the state.

As this meteorological disturbance looms ominously over coastal territories, it is prudent to recognize that even inland communities nestled within the confines of southern New England remain susceptible to its reverberations.

The hurricane center has further posited, “The prodigious volumes of rainfall attributed to this meteorological system harbor the potential to generate localized instances of substantial flash flooding, thereby exacerbating urban inundation across select portions of the mid-Atlantic states, extending from North Carolina to New Jersey through the culmination of Sunday.” Additionally, the tempest is poised to bequeath treacherous surfs and formidable rip currents along the Eastern Seaboard throughout the weekend, as underscored by the hurricane center.

Certain areas, particularly those in proximity to inlets and rivers spanning from Surf City, North Carolina, to Manasquan Inlet along the New Jersey shore, confront the specter of surges ranging between one to five feet in elevation.

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