North Carolina Beach Homes Collapse Due to Severe Coastal Storm
The slow-moving storm isn’t particularly intense, but its relentless pounding on the shore – combined with the effects of rising sea levels – is causing severe damage in an area prone to the effects of human-caused climate change.
The two homes on Ocean Drive on Hatteras Island succumbed to the sea after days of battering from the coastal storm, the National Park Service has confirmed. Water levels have been above high tide flood stage since Sunday, when an offshore buoy measured waves reaching 16ft.
Overflows and sand closed parts of NC12, the main highway through the Outer Banks, which remained closed Wednesday morning. “The overnight high tide was not favorable to our efforts to reopen the road,” the North Carolina Department of Transportation wrote in a Facebook update Wednesday.
NC12 remains CLOSED between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe. The last high tide brought more overflow and sand to the road to the Pea Island Visitor Center and S-curves. Our crews are working now, but it’s too early to say if we’ll be able to reopen in traffic today. pic.twitter.com/uOtq14AW2r
– NCDOT NC12 (@NCDOT_NC12) May 11, 2022
The two homes lost on Tuesday are among three destroyed by the ocean so far this year; another house on Ocean Drive collapsed on February 9 and spread its debris for 10 to 15 miles.
According to William Sweet, sea level expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sea levels from Norfolk to the Outer Banks have recently risen about an inch every five years, putting more homes at risk.
“Higher seas allow waves to attack higher elevations and expose land that is not typically exposed to these types of events,” Sweet said. “These storms have dissipated over the past few years and decades.”
Sweet said the current storm has pushed water levels about two feet above normally dry land at high tide. “We are now twice as likely to reach two feet of water than 20 years ago,” he said. “The data and the models all suggest that it is becoming more and more common. We are heading towards a new normal for this type of effect.
Sea levels will rise a foot along US coasts by 2050, government report says
Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) has confirmed that an unoccupied home at 24265 Ocean Drive, Rodanthe, NC collapsed this afternoon. This is the second unoccupied house collapse of the day at the Seashore. Learn more: https://t.co/ZPUiklQAWA pic.twitter.com/OMoPNCpbzk
— Cape Hatteras National Seashore (@CapeHatterasNPS) May 10, 2022
Mike Barber, spokesman for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, said Wednesday that earlier this year the Dare County Planning Department notified “several homeowners” along Ocean Drive that their homes were “in a dangerous condition” and risked falling. in the sea.
Barber said federal officials quickly sent their own letter to the same owners in early March, warning them of the impending risks and liabilities. “We had concerns about visitor safety and public safety in this area,” he said.
Since early February, he added, the beach along this stretch of Ocean Drive has remained closed to the public.
Barber said officials have been in contact with the owners of both homes to let them know what happened.
He said the owners who lost their homes on Tuesday hired a contractor to clean up the damage left by the collapse and cleanup work began on Wednesday.
But similar calamities remain likely in the future. Of the homes still standing on that stretch of Ocean Drive, Barber said, several had also received letters from officials warning of the imminent risks they face.
“Unfortunately, more homes may collapse on Seashore beaches in the near future,” David Hallac, superintendent of eastern North Carolina National Parks, said in a news release.
Hallac added that his agency “recommended that steps be taken to prevent collapse and impacts to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.”
At a public meeting in February, officials said as many as 11 homes could soon collapse in the area, the Island Free Press reported, including the two that were destroyed on Tuesday.
Due to the ongoing storm, a coastal flood warning and high surf advisory remain in effect for Hatteras Island and the northern Outer Banks through Thursday morning for up to 2 to 4 feet of flooding near vulnerable dune structures, while large breaking waves could reach 10 to 15 feet in the surf zone.
“Low-lying properties, including homes, businesses and some critical infrastructure, will be flooded,” the National Weather Service warning reads.
Surf conditions are expected to ease after Thursday as the storm moves south and heads inland – the opposite direction of storms generally progress.
This pesky low that’s been dragging on for a few days passes closest to us tonight before finally flowing south.
Conditions improve tomorrow before entering a wetter pattern (which will hopefully bring some much needed rain) to end the week pic.twitter.com/8AVfIZb25M
— NWS Newport/Morehead (@NWSMoreheadCity) May 11, 2022
So much about this storm has been weird, or at least wild.
It began its reign of terror a week ago, unleashing nine tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma, including several destructive ones. A tornado nearly completed a 360-degree loop about 45 miles east-southeast of Oklahoma City, stunning forecasters.
A tornado in Oklahoma traced an almost perfect loop loop
It also dumped nearly 10 inches of rain in parts of eastern Oklahoma, causing severe flooding, which extended into parts of southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri and north -western Arkansas. Dozens of people were rescued in the high waters.
As the storm moved through the southeast on Friday, the weather service received more than 300 severe weather reports, including 16 tornadoes in five states. Severe flash flooding inundated parts of southwestern West Virginia. Cabell County, home to Huntington and where a man died after being swept away by high water, was among the hardest hit areas. Governor Jim Justice (R) declared a state of emergency for Cabell, Putnam and Roane counties.
The system developed into a coastal storm as it moved out of the mid-Atlantic over the weekend. Its heavy rains flooded several waterways in the Washington area, including parts of the Potomac River.
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It battered the Jersey Shore, causing severe beach erosion. Its winds were comparable to Hurricane Sandy in some areas, wrote Atlantic City News Meteorologist Joe Martucci. Winds were blowing up to 61 mph at Atlantic City Airport. A building under construction near Stone Harbor collapsed amid high winds on Saturday, he reported.
Offshore, wind and waves created an eventful journey for passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which weathered the storm.
When the storm rolls over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic on Friday and Saturday, it will be a shell of its old plateau – much weaker than a week ago. Still, it will generate clouds and showers, compromising what would otherwise have been a stellar spring weekend.
The storm took such an unusual path because it evolved into what is called a “cutoff low,” separated from the west-to-east direction currents of the jet stream. Since Saturday there has been little to guide its movement, but a heat dome building to the northwest will place it inland over the next few days.
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