Ophelia, a strong tropical storm, made landfall near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, on Saturday morning, bringing heavy rain, strong winds, and coastal flooding as it continues its journey inland along the East Coast.
Upon reaching the coast, Ophelia had sustained winds of 70 mph, just below hurricane strength. Its tropical-storm force winds extend up to 310 miles from the storm’s center, causing power outages that affected more than 70,000 homes and businesses across the mid-Atlantic and North Carolina, as reported by the PowerOutage.us utility tracking site.
As of 8 a.m., Ophelia’s winds had decreased to 65 mph, and it is expected to gradually weaken as it moves further inland. However, the potential for additional power outages remains a concern as it impacts more areas.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Ophelia is forecasted to move across eastern North Carolina and then travel through southeastern Virginia before heading north across the Delmarva Peninsula over the weekend.
The storm’s extensive rain shield spans hundreds of miles from its center, resulting in substantial rainfall across a significant portion of the mid-Atlantic, affecting Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.
The most significant impacts are concentrated along the coastal areas of North Carolina, where the center of the storm has made its presence felt. Coastal regions experienced storm surge flooding and inlets were inundated overnight. Cape Lookout, located along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, experienced wind gusts reaching 73 mph.
Flooding began on Friday when roads in communities along North Carolina’s coast became submerged. In coastal Cedar Island, water accumulation was observed on Highway 12, although it remained open and passable, as reported by the state transportation department. Nevertheless, the department urged people to avoid travel unless absolutely necessary due to sand and water on the roadway and hazardous weather conditions.
In New Bern, a city situated along two rivers in North Carolina, approximately 120 miles east of Raleigh, roads were also inundated, and water levels rose in the downtown area, according to city officials on Facebook. Images shared on the city’s social media page depicted a flooded children’s park and ducks navigating floodwaters in the streets.