Worst of Maria expected Wednesday as storm heads north

Published 5:55 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Gusts of wind are expected to intensify in Beaufort County Wednesday as Tropical Storm Maria passes the North Carolina coast on its way up the East Coast.

“What we’re seeing this afternoon is going to continue to probably early to mid-day Thursday. Tomorrow we’ll see the worst of it,” Beaufort County Emergency Services Director Chris Newkirk said Tuesday afternoon.

As predicted, Maria was downgraded to a tropical storm as it reached cooler water Tuesday. In Beaufort County, sustained winds of 12-20 mph, with occasional gusts of more than 25 mph, are expected in areas west of Bath and Blounts Creek. In Aurora, Belhaven and other eastern areas, sustained winds of 18-25 mph, with some gusts of more than 30 mph, are likely.

“We’re not expecting much more than what we’re seeing right now. We’ll see a slight increase in wind,” Newkirk said. “We are probably seeing what we can expect for the next 36 to 48 hours.”

The National Hurricane Center website warned of dangerous surf along the Carolina coast, as well as issued a storm surge warning from Ocracoke inlet to Cape Hatteras. Along county waterways, there could be a 1-foot to 2-foot rise in water level.

“The biggest threats from the state level is the Outer Banks, and even there, their primary concern is the overwash of (N.C.) Highway 12,” Newkirk said.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, rising water levels had been noted in the area, but no flooded roads had been reported, he said.