Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, during the early hours of Saturday morning. The storm, displaying the characteristics of a powerful tropical storm, is now set to journey further inland along the East Coast. This trajectory brings with it the prospect of heavy rainfall, strong winds, and coastal flooding that will affect areas well beyond its initial point of impact.
Ophelia came ashore with sustained winds of 70 mph, narrowly missing hurricane strength by a small margin. Its reach extended significantly, with tropical-storm force winds encompassing a radius of up to 310 miles from the center. Early reports indicate that power outages have already affected over 70,000 residences and businesses throughout the mid-Atlantic region and North Carolina. Data from the utility tracking site PowerOutage.us confirms these numbers.
As of 8 a.m., Ophelia’s wind speeds had reduced to 65 mph, and a gradual weakening trend is anticipated as the storm continues its inland journey. However, the potential for additional power disruptions remains a significant concern, particularly as the storm impacts more regions.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Ophelia’s projected path entails traversing eastern North Carolina before progressing into southeastern Virginia. Subsequently, it is expected to head further north across the Delmarva Peninsula over the weekend.
The expansive rain bands associated with the storm stretch across hundreds of miles from its center. Consequently, this has led to substantial rainfall across a considerable portion of the mid-Atlantic, encompassing regions such as Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.
Notably, the most severe impacts are being felt along the coastal areas of North Carolina, where the core of the storm has made its presence known. Coastal regions have been subjected to storm surge flooding, while wind gusts of up to 73 mph have been recorded at Cape Lookout, situated along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
The onset of flooding was observed on Friday as roads in coastal communities along North Carolina’s coastline became submerged. For instance, in Cedar Island, water accumulated on Highway 12, though the road remained open and passable, as confirmed by the state’s transportation department. Nevertheless, the department strongly advised against unnecessary travel due to hazardous conditions, including sand and water on roadways, coupled with the inclement weather.
Further inland, in New Bern, a city located approximately 120 miles east of Raleigh and situated along two rivers, roads were also inundated. Water levels steadily rose in the downtown area, as reported by city officials via their Facebook page. Visual documentation posted on the city’s social media platform depicted a flooded children’s park and ducks navigating the floodwaters that had engulfed the streets.