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No evacuation of Ocracoke or Hyde County is expected due to Hurricane Irma.
“Hyde County officials have discussed potential triggers for the issuance of emergency declarations and orders, but based on the current official forecast we do not anticipate that those thresholds will be met and no recommendations are under consideration at this time,” said Donnie Shumate, Hyde County public information officer, in a press release Thursday. “But residents and visitors need to keep in mind that small track changes can result in greater impacts for our area.”
Shumate issued the press release following the first meeting yesterday afternoon of the Ocracoke Advisory Control Group to monitor Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricanes ever recorded.
The National Hurricane Center is forecasting this devastating and deadly storm to hit Miami, Fla., on Sunday and move northward through the state and into Georgia where it is expected to diminish to a category 1 storm. By Tuesday it is expected to move inland and primarily affect the western side of North Carolina.
Now, however, its wind speeds remain near 180 miles per hour, with stronger gusts, and it will remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane for the next couple of days.
Hyde County said residents and visitors should monitor weather reports and be aware of any updated watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
“Please make sure you have multiple ways to receive weather alerts, as there is the potential for severe weather during Irma’s trek inland,” Shumate said. “In addition, everyone needs ensure that their household hurricane preparedness plans are in place and that they are prepared to act should the track shift more toward Eastern North Carolina.”
While it is too early to determine what, if any, direct impacts Hyde could see from Irma, long period swells are already being observed. The threat of dangerous surf and strong rip currents exists along the eastern N.C. beaches and they are expected to persist through early next week.
Visitors to Ocracoke’s beaches need to be aware that National Park Service lifeguard services ended on Labor Day weekend and Hyde County recommends the following precautions:
* If caught in a rip current remain calm. Don’t fight the current. Swim in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim back to shore. If tired, float or tread water until out of the rip current. If you are unable to escape, face the shore and call or wave for help.
* Shore break occurs when waves break directly on the beach. The most common injuries associated with strong shore break are neck and back injuries, which most often occur when the powerful surf throws a swimmer or surfer head first into the bottom. It is extremely important to protect your head and neck whenever you are in breaking waves by keeping your hands in front of you at all times.
Keep in mind that we are in the peak of hurricane season and it is prudent to be prepared. The National Hurricane Center’s website has a wealth of information on hurricane preparedness at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php
The Ocracoke Control Group, under the leadership of Hyde County EMS Director Justin Gibbs and composed of various government officials and business owners, gathers information from a variety of sources and advises the Hyde County commissioners about possible evacuations