Outer Banks November Nor’Easter Recap

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Outer Banks November Nor’Easter Recap

It’s unclear what name will be used to “coin” last week’s storm that wreaked havoc on the Outer Banks as it lives on in the minds of those effected; is it the “November nor’easter,” “Veteran’s Day nor’easter,” “Friday the 13th nor’easter,” “Nor’Ida”?

November nor’easter seems to be the most widely used for now, so we’ll stick with that.  What is clear, however, is that the storm (really two weather systems; a high to the north and a low to the south – remnants of tropical storm Ida) was the worst the area has seen in a few years with major damage that will require significant time, energy, and monetary funds to repair.  The damage is widespread from Hatters to Corolla and affects public and private property.

The storm arrived on the OBX on Wednesday afternoon and didn’t release its grip on the area until Saturday evening.  The long duration of the storm is one of the main reasons for the severe impact.  Residents and weather forecasters have compared this storm to Hurricane Isabel in 2003.  In the end, the current storm surge during high tides was approximately a foot below Isabel’s storm surge; however, a significant difference between the storms is the duration.

Hurricanes move quickly while nor’easters, and this storm in particular, tend to stall and barrage the Outer Banks for days rather than hours.  Hurricanes can be violent, but they are generally short-lived; nor’easters tend to create an ideal environment for increased damage from extended periods of high winds, high surf, high storm surge, and standing water/flooding.

Strong winds blew consistently for almost four days out of the northeast driving large surf to the beach, eventually overtaking the beach and dune lines.  Houses sitting precariously along the dune line faced imminent danger from the crashing surf.  Add to the dangerous surf and overwash significant rain fall, and flooding, especially along the beach, becomes one of the main forces underlying damage to roadways and residences.

As of now, a week after the start of the storm and four days removed from the return of the sun, the damage assessments are ongoing and repairs are underway.  Massive amounts of sand need to be removed; the area resembles the northeast after a major snowfall, but replace snow drifts with sand drifts.  Debris needs to be removed from streets, beaches, and the ocean.  Select roadways need significant repair; the main roadway casualty being Rt. 12 at the top of Hatters.

Rt. 12 at the top of Hatteras is a well known section of road for a  few reasons; Rt. 12 is a nationally recognized scenic byway, this section is well-known in the surf culture for great OBX surf, the house from Nights in Rodanthe is precariously perched in the beach here, and now it is gaining notoriety for the extensive damage from the November nor’easter.

From last Friday through today, the road has been shut down due to significant damage, and keep in mind this is the only road out of Hatteras.  On Monday, a temporary path was created for four-wheel drive vehicles, but it was a crude solution to a more significant problem.  As of today, one lane has reopened while crews continue to work tirelessly to repair the dune line and roadway.  As a result of the damage, Hatteras was declared a State of Emergency late last week, and Governor Purdue is expected to seek Federal aid for the re

In addition to the focus on the road in this area, a significant amount of attention is focused on “Serendipity,” the house from Nights in Rodanthe.  The house has been treacherously close to the waves for quite a while, but this storm brought a renewed threat to the already empty house.  The devastating destruction caused by Mother Nature is clear from the disappearing dunes and mangled road.  It doesn’t require a large stretch of imagination to comprehend the damage “Serendipity” is facing.  As of today, Dare County has determined that “Serendipity” must be moved or removedfrom its precarious location.  It could be the end of an icon that has stood as an OBX treasure since 1988 when it was erected by a local builder.

November 18, 2009 - Posted by seasidevacations | OBX Newsnatureweather | , | No Comments Yet Edit

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