For Ocracoke news, including earlier stories on Hurricane Matthew, click here.
By Connie Leinbach
As of 5 p.m. today, Ocracoke is beginning to experience stronger winds and gusts as Hurricane Matthew churns northward.
Ocracoke Variety store clerks said today that islanders should get to the store by 6:30 today if you need any last-minute items for tonight because the store will close at 7 p.m.
That’s the closing time while Hurricane Matthews bears down and the visitor evacuation is in effect.
John Simpson said between customers Saturday afternoon that depending on weather conditions, the store might close earlier.
In any event, it will be open tomorrow.
“I’ll be here at 8 a.m.,” Simpson said. “I’ll walk in my chest waders if I have to.”
The Variety Store, the Beachcomber gas station were open today and expect to be open tomorrow. The Community Store is open until 6 p.m. today and will then be closed until the weather improves.
With the mandatory visitor evacuation in effect Wednesday, many businesses began closing, with most all others closed today as Matthew (as a tropical storm) is expected to brush the island tonight and into the Sunday early morning hours.
Motel owners continue to field calls about cancellations due to the evacuation and reservations for next week.
Ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke stopped today at 8 a.m. and stopped yesterday afternoon for the long routes across Pamlico Sound.
According to Hyde County Emergency Services, Matthew is a minimal Category One hurricane with 75 mph maximum sustained winds and the storm is moving to the northeast at 12 mph. The current forecast track brings Matthew approximately 80 miles south of Ocracoke as a strong tropical storm.
The National Hurricane Center as of 5 p.m. reported that the center of Matthew
Matthew is moving toward the east-northeast near 13 mph, and this motion is expected to continue tonight and early Sunday. On the forecast track, the center of Matthew will be near the coast of southern North Carolina by this evening.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 75 mph with higher gusts. Although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, Matthew is expected to remain near hurricane strength while the center is near the coasts of North Carolina.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles mainly over water to the east of the center. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles. Multiple private weather stations along the coast of South Carolina near Myrtle Beach have recently reported hurricane-force wind gusts.
Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.
Earlier today, Hyde County Manager Bill Rich said storm surge, including rainfall volume, is expected at about three to six feet.
Following on the heels of Hurricane Matthew is Tropical Storm Nicole, now still well east of the Bahamas.