Hurricane Ophelia Lashes Cape Lookout, N.C.; Serious Flooding, 11-foot Storm Surge Predicted

September 15, 2005

Hurricane warnings are up over a 220 mile stretch of North Carolina’s coast, from Surf City, north of Wilmington to the Virginia line as officials fear serious flooding and a possible 11-foot storm surge. Early Thursday, Hurricane Ophelia continues to crawl along the coastline. Ophelia, a Category One hurricane, has sustained winds of 80 mph and is expected to dump another 3 to 6 inches of rain along the coast.

In its 9 a.m. EST update the National Hurricane Center said Ophelia is weakening slightly as it continues to skirt North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A hurricane warning remains in effect from Surf City, N.C. to the North Carolina/Virginia border including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Va. including the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

The center of Hurricane Ophelia was near latitude 34.8 north, longitude 75.7 west or about 30 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Ophelia is moving erratically toward the east-northeast near 6 mph and a motion between northeast and east-northeast is expected today. While the center of Ophelia is forecast to remain just offshore and parallel the North Carolina Outer Banks. The northern eyewall is expected to remain over the Outer Banks during this period.

Maximum sustained winds have decreased from 85 mph to 80 mph with higher gusts and the National Hurricane Center predicts slow weakening during the next 24 hours. Ophelia is a category one hurricane.

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 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels along with large and dangerous battering waves can be expected in areas of onshore flow. A storm surge of 8 to 10 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 with maximum storm total amounts of 15 inches possible.

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