The tide is high on Ocracoke while Hurricane Teddy passes by. Photo: C. Leinbach

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Tides, winds and waves cause dune loss and ocean overwash in several locations

RODANTHE – A “triple whammy” of weather conditions has caused severe dune loss and ocean overwash in several locations along N.C. Highway 12, causing the N.C. Department of Transportation to close the road in two locations until at least Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service out of Morehead City reported Tuesday afternoon that the Coastal Flood Warning for the Northern Outer Banks and Hatteras Island has been extended into Tuesday afternoon to account for the next two high tide cycles. Water levels will peak during high tide, which is around 11:30 p.m. tonight and around noon Tuesday.

The combination of seasonal high tides, strong northeast winds, and long-form waves created by Hurricane Teddy has caused ocean conditions that have broken through protective dunes and deposited large amounts of sand and salt water on the road. In some spots, the sand on the highway is four-to-six feet deep. However, no structural damage to the road has been observed.

Overwash on NC12. Photo by NCDOT

N.C. 12 is currently closed in two locations:

  • Between the Marc Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe on Hatteras Island
  • Between the National Park Service Pony Pens and the ferry terminal on Ocracoke Island

NCDOT crews have been working since Saturday to clear the road of sand and water while rebuilding dune lines when conditions permit, but high tide cycles have slowed or even reversed their progress. NCDOT has approximately two dozen people, along with a contingent of front-end loaders, excavators and graders working to reopen the road.

Weather conditions are forecast to ease on the Outer Banks tomorrow, and crews are hoping to reopen the highway in both locations sometime Tuesday afternoon.
For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on social media.

Visitors look at the roaring ocean on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach
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