Ocracoke on weather watch. Photo: P. Vankevich

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This report has been updated 4 p.m. Dec. 23.

The National Weather Service out of Newport/Morehead City today updated its forecast this afternoon on the cold front expected to reach eastern North Carolina starting Christmas Eve and lasting through Christmas morning.

The entire area has been upgraded to an Enhanced Risk (Level 3 of 5) of severe thunderstorms for tomorrow. An increase in the tornado risk prompted the higher threat level.

Thursday night, the Outer Banks can expect strong, damaging winds and thunderstorms with possible structural damage, downed trees and power outages. Isolated tornadoes are possible and minor coastal flooding is expected for several locations adjacent to inland sounds and tidal rivers.

Southerly wind gusts up to 50 to 60 mph are expected along the Outer Banks, with wind gusts 40 to 50 mph expected elsewhere along the coast.

Beach erosion and possible ocean overwash will be a threat from Ocracoke Island to Cape Hatteras.

Friday morning will bring showers and high winds with the temperature dropping later in the day into Saturday in the 30sF range and possible freezing.

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