Ophelia bears down on North Carolina's Outer Banks

| 9/15/2005

Hurricane Ophelia continued its slow meandering across the lower East Coast, blanketing much of North Carolina in heavy rains and high winds.

According to the National Weather Service, as of 11 a.m. Thursday, Ophelia – a Category 1 Hurricane – was drifting east-northeastward just offshore near the North Carolina outer banks. A hurricane warning – meaning hurricane conditions are expected within the next 24 hours – remains in effect from Surf City, NC, to the North Carolina/Virginia border, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

A tropical storm warning – meaning tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 24 hours – remains in effect north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, VA, including Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

The center of Ophelia was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, NC, and about 55 miles east-northeast of Cape Lookout, NC.

Ophelia is drifting toward the east-northeast at 3 mph, and is expected to continue in this direction for the next 24 hours. While the center of Ophelia is forecast to remain just offshore and move parallel to the North Carolina Outer Banks, the northern eyewall is expected to remain over the Outer Banks during the next 12 to 24 hours.

Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.

Maximum coastal storm surge flooding of 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels, along with large and dangerous battering waves, can be expected in areas of onshore flow. A storm surge of 6 to 8 feet is possible at the heads of bays and rivers.

Ophelia is expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 3 to 5 inches over portions of extreme eastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks, during the next 24 hours.

– Aaron Ladage, staff writer