East Coast storm: Tropical Storm Ophelia makes landfall along North Carolina coast Saturday
Tropical Storm Ophelia is heading up the East Coast after making landfall near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, early Saturday, delivering heavy rain, strong winds and coastal flooding well beyond its center.
Here are the storm’s latest impacts:
- 70,000-plus homes and businesses lost power across North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic Saturday morning, according to utility tracking site PowerOutage.us.
- Storm surge flooding of more than 3 feet hit coastal North Carolina where water was seen covering roadways
- States of emergency were declared in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland
- Two MLB games have been postponed: Braves-Nationals in Washington, D.C., and Diamondbacks-Yankees in New York
The tropical storm roared ashore around 6:15 a.m. with 70 mph sustained winds – just shy of hurricane strength. Tropical-storm force winds extend up to 320 miles from Ophelia’s core, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm had 50 mph winds as of 11 a.m. and will continue to weaken as it moves farther inland, but power outages could grow as it affects more areas.
Ophelia is on track to move across eastern North Carolina and then travel through southeastern Virginia, before heading farther north across the Delmarva Peninsula on Saturday and Sunday, the hurricane center said.
Peter Ackerman/USA Today Network
Waves shoot over a jetty at the Manasquan Inlet as Tropical Storm Ophelia impacts the Jersey Shore on Saturday.
The threat of rain postponed two Major League Baseball games scheduled for Saturday. The Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals will replay their game on Sunday, while the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees have yet to announce when they will take to the diamond.
The storm’s shield of rain extends hundreds of miles from its center and is already dumping heavy rain across a large swath of the mid-Atlantic, including Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.
But coastal areas in North Carolina are bearing the brunt of impacts as the center of the expansive storm barges into the state.
Storm surge flooded coastal areas and inlets in North Carolina overnight and winds gusting to 73 mph hit Cape Lookout, along the state’s Outer Banks.
Kendall Warner/The Virginian-Pilot/AP
Waves break along the jetty at Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Friday as Tropical Storm Ophelia approached the area.
The flooding began on Friday, when roads were submerged in communities along North Carolina’s coast. In coastal Cedar Island, water collected on Highway 12, though it was open and passable, the state transportation department said.
“But please don’t go out tonight unless you absolutely have to. There is sand and water on the roadway, and it’s dark and stormy,” the department said in a social media post.
In New Bern, which sits along two rivers in North Carolina about 120 miles east of Raleigh, roads were flooded and water creeped inland as the levels rose in the downtown area, city officials said on Facebook. Photos posted on the city’s page show a flooded children’s park and ducks floating down the street on floodwaters.
Water levels also rose overnight in the Chesapeake Bay, along the coasts of Virginia and Maryland.
“If you can avoid driving or being out during the storm please do so. We are expecting an extended period of strong winds, heavy rainfall, and elevated tides,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.
Ophelia will deliver several key threats through the weekend:
Heavy Rainfall: Some places in eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia could see between 3 and 5 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts. Other states in the Mid-Atlantic could pick up 2 to 4 inches on rain Saturday night through Sunday. Meanwhile, 1 to 3 inches of rain are forecast across southern New York through southern New England beginning Saturday into Monday.
Coastal Threats: One to 5 feet of storm surge is possible in some coastal areas, particularly in inlets and rivers from around Surf City, North Carolina, to the Virginia Tidewater. Storm surge flooding could peak Saturday afternoon with another high tide, particularly in the lower Chesapeake Bay.
The storm will also bring dangerous surf and rip currents along East Coast through the weekend, the hurricane center warned.
Strong and Gusty winds: Tropical-storm-force wind gusts – between 39 and 73 mph – will impact a wide area of the East Coast throughout the day Saturday. Winds will lessen with time, but stronger gusts could down trees and power lines.
Severe weather: A few tornadoes also are possible in parts of the coastal mid-Atlantic and North Carolina.