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By Peter Vankevich
The Outer Banks and southern Virginia were the last areas to receive the brunt of Hurricane Michael, which became a tropical storm after it made landfall.
Striking the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday (Oct. 10) as a high Category 4 hurricane with peak winds of 155 mph, Michael left a trail of major destruction and death as it moved through Georgia and the Carolinas.
The storm’s center passed through central North Carolina on Thursday and went out into the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia’s Eastern Shore this morning, which dawned sunny and calm on Ocracoke.
Ocracoke was mostly spared, with very little rain and high winds beginning Wednesday evening that had gusts over 40 mph. By dawn today, folks were relieved to see that N.C. 12, badly damaged by Hurricane Florence in September, was unscathed with just some sand on the road and the dunes were intact.
The Hatteras ferry shut down Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and resumed this morning as did the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter routes.
The upper Outer Banks fared worse with heavy soundside flooding particularly in Colington, Kitty Hawk, Manteo and Wanchese and more than 5,000 customers lost power. N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island was impassable by late Thursday but is now open, although with standing water remaining on much of it.
The Outer Banks Voice reported the flood gauge at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reached 5.4 feet at midnight. The record was 6.31 feet during Hurricane Irene (2011). Emergency responders were called to dozens of water rescues, including people trapped in vehicles at Camp Hatteras.
The heaviest rainfall was over central and western North Carolina, where numerous trees have also been downed and thousands are still without power.
National Park Service visitor facilities at Cape Hatteras National Seashore reopened at noon and off-road vehicle ramps are open, but some beach routes may be impassable, especially during high tide conditions.
The National Park Service strongly urges swimmers to stay out of the Atlantic Ocean as rip current threats remain high today.