September 23, 2023

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Tropical Storm Ophelia barrels through North Carolina, bringing heavy rain : NPR

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Surfers ride the waves Saturday as the ocean is whipped up by Tropical Storm Ophelia at Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington, N.C.

Eros Hoagland/Getty Images

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Eros Hoagland/Getty Images

Surfers ride the waves Saturday as the ocean is whipped up by Tropical Storm Ophelia at Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington, N.C.

Eros Hoagland/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Ophelia is barreling across eastern North Carolina, bringing high gusts, coastal flooding and life-threatening rip currents northward to New Jersey over the weekend.

Around 6:15 a.m. ET, Ophelia made landfall near Emerald Isle, N.C., with maximum winds of 70 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. Heading northward, the storm will move across eastern North Carolina over to southeastern Virginia then the Delmarva Peninsula into Sunday.

In the center’s latest advisory from 2 p.m. ET, the storm was generating 45 mph winds. Forecasters said 3-5 inches of rainfall is expected across parts of eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia into Saturday night. Ophelia is forecast to produce as much as 8 inches of rain in some areas of the region.

Portions of the Mid-Atlantic are forecast to get 2-4 inches of rainfall into Sunday, which could create flash, urban and small stream flooding in parts of North Carolina to New Jersey, forecasters said.

New York through southern New England could get 1-3 inches through Monday morning.

On Friday, the governors of Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia declared a state of emergency.

Concern for storm surges grow in parts of Virginia

A tropical storm warning was in effect from east of Cape Lookout, N.C., to Fenwick Island, Del. This included Albemarle and Pamlico sounds in North Carolina, the Tidal Potomac River south of Cobb Island, Md., and Chesapeake Bay south of North Beach, Md.

The region stretching from Ocracoke Inlet, N.C., to Chincoteague, Va., in Chesapeake Bay south of Colonial Beach, Va., and the Neuse and Pamlico rivers was under a storm surge warning, meaning there is threat of rising water moving inland from the coastline over the next 36 hours.

The remainder of Pamlico and Albemarle sounds were under a storm surge watch, meaning the threat of rising water could appear over the next 48 hours.

Meanwhile, the Neuse and Bay rivers and the Pamlico and Pungo rivers are expected to see floodwaters rise between 3 and 5 feet. The surge could also cause flooding of 2 to 4 feet in the lower Chesapeake Bay and 1 to 3 feet farther up the bay.

The threat of storm surges comes as floods become more frequent and severe in most of the U.S. due to more extreme precipitation and sea level rise from climate change.

Ophelia takes a toll on parts of North Carolina, Virginia and the New York Yankees

Nearly 30,000 customers in North Carolina, largely in the east, were without power Saturday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.US which tracks outages across the country.

As the storm travels to central North Carolina, winds are reaching between 20 and 25 mph with greater gusts of 35 to 45 mph, resulting in downed trees and more power outages, the National Weather Service said Saturday afternoon. In Raleigh, crews were assisting in local evaluations off of Highway 17 near the Pamlico Sound.

The city, along with Cary and Wake Forest, are under a flash flood warning until 5 p.m. ET.

In Virginia, about 13,400 customers were experiencing outages. The Virginia National Guard was on standby to preform water rescues and help clear debris, the state department of emergency management said.

Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey are also bracing for possible power outages as the storm heads their way. New York City also issued a travel advisory for the weekend, warning of heavy rain and potential flooding.

In light of weather concerns, the New York Yankees postponed their home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The new date has not been set.

NPR’s Emma Bowman contributed reporting.

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