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Rain storm causes road closure, ferry suspension

Updated, Sept. 26, 11:31 a.m

Leaving Ocracoke village sign information at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 26

Leaving Ocracoke village sign information at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 26

N.C. 12 on Ocracoke Island was closed this morning between the Pony Pen and the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry Terminal due to flooding from heavy rains. An estimated reopening has not been determined.

Locations along N.C. 12 in this area are reported to have approximately one foot of water on the road and are impassable. Drivers on N.C. 12 coming from Ocracoke Village will be able to turn around in the Pony Pen parking lot.

Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department Chief Albert O’Neal cautioned against drivers venturing into standing water of unknown depth.

“Water flowing over the battery will cause it to short out,” he said.  Water on the battery could also spark a fire, he said.

High water on Back Road Friday, Sept. 25.

High water on Back Road Friday, Sept. 25.

Due to the Ocracoke road closure, the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry shut down service this morning. Other ferry routes are also being impacted by the storm, including the Pamlico River and Cherry Branch ferries.

Riders are advised to call the appropriate ferry terminal ahead of time to make sure that their run has not been delayed or cancelled. Phone numbers can be found on the Ferry Division website here. Regular updates on ferry routes can also be found on Twitter.

No other road closures are reported at this time; however, there are areas of standing water along N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island south of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. The road is open and passable, but drivers should proceed with caution and avoid driving through standing water if possible. Updates will be posted on the NCDOT N.C. 12 Facebook page as they are received.

In addition, all ORV ramps to the beach are closed, reported Ed Fuller, chief ranger at Ocracoke for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

“South Point Road flooded out first,” he said. 

 He does not know when the ramps will be reopened but noted that the tides have been strong in the last several days.

“The tides have been up to the dunes most of this week,” he said, and the full moon on Monday will also be a factor.

The National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., says that the combination of a strong high pressure to the north and low pressure to the south will result in gusty northeast winds and large breaking waves into the weekend.

The stormy conditions are also arriving during a period of higher than normal meteorological tides, caused by Sunday night’s full moon, which is a “supermoon.” Water levels along the oceanfront are expected to be pushed to 2 to 3 feet above normal.

NWS meteorologist Brian Cullen said earlier today that forecasters are especially concerned about Saturday night, when winds gusts will be at their highest along the Outer Banks during the high tide, which is at about 7 p.m.

Breaking waves of 6 to 9 feet are expected along the Hatteras and Ocracoke beaches, although the marine forecasts calls for seas from 11 to 15 feet north of Oregon Inlet.

For real-time travel information, call 511, visit the Traveler Services section of NCDOT.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.

The telephone number for the Hatteras/Ocracoke ferries is 252 986-2353.

The Island Free Press contributed to this story. www.islandfreepress.org.

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