Hermine Heads Out; Dare County Hardest Hit

Aug 31, 2016

Police block the road entering Cedar Key, Fla., as Hurricane Hermine nears the Florida coast, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. Hurricane Hermine gained new strength Thursday evening and roared ever closer to Florida's Gulf Coast, where rough surf began smashing against docks and boathouses and people braced for the first direct hit on the state from a hurricane in over a decade.
Credit John Raoux / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Updated Saturday 9:00 p.m.

Dare County Emergency Management says all major roads and bridges are now open. Flooding was worse than expected, as the back end of Hermine came through the Outer Banks. Ferries are expected to begin operating on Sunday, and the mandatory evacuation of visitors will likely be lifted.

Updated Saturday 1:17 p.m.

The NC DOT is reporting that all major bridges in Dare County are closed due to high winds. A tractor trailer crash on the Alligator River Bridge resulted in a fatality.

Water is also rising on Hatteras Island, and WAVY TV is reporting that a tornado may have touched down there, as well. Ferries are also shut down.

Overnight, a tornado touched down at a campground in Hatteras Village, according to Dare County Emergency Management. Minor injuries were reported.

Updated Saturday 8:41 a.m.

The last remnants of Hermine are now out of North Carolina and heading up the east coast.  Duke Energy and Dominion are reporting scattered outages. No major flooding appears to have occurred in southeastern NC, and coastal businesses are encouraging visitors to enjoy the weekend at the beach.

Authorities are still warning about possible rip currents and other dangerous conditions caused by Hermine.

Updated Friday 4:59 p.m.

Tropical Storm Hermine continues to dump rain from the Piedmont to the North Carolina coast.

Hermine is currently churning up the South Carolina coast en route to Wilmington and the Outer Banks.

National Weather Service meteorlogist Rich Bandy has been monitoring the storm from his office in Morehead City.

"It's been raining pretty steadily all day," Bandy says.

"The grounds are already saturated, so it won't take too much to get us up into some minor, low-lying, poor-drainage flooding. I think that's going to be pretty much widespread across the area."

Updated Friday 3:38 p.m.

Gov. Pat McCrory says he's receiving mostly good news about the effects of Tropical Storm Hermine.

The storm is currently hugging the coast of South Carolina. Wilmington will likely get a direct hit from Hermine this evening, but in a press conference this afternoon, the governor said emergency management officials in Georgia have reported only minor damage as the storm picks up speed.

"I think the Kinston and Greenville area would probably be the major concern for any potential stalling, but based upon the weather forecast, we think it's moving out pretty quickly," McCrory said.

Hermine was a hurricane when it hit the coast of Florida overnight, but it has weakened significantly since then.  Forecasters still expect wind gusts of 50 miles per hour along the coast tonight.  States of Emergency and tropical storm warnings are still in effect for eastern North Carolina. 

Updated Friday 2:24 p.m.

Businesses on the Outer Banks will likely have to absorb an economic blow to the area as Tropical Storm Hermine moves along the coast.  

Mandatory evacuations went into effect today for visitors to Hyde County.

That includes Orcacoke Island, where Byron Miller manages the Ocracoke Harbor Inn.  He says he hopes to re-book guests for Sunday night, but the storm will have a major impact on holiday income.

"Unfortunately for us they made the decision to evacuate, which basically means our last busy weekend of the year has been eliminated, which is not good economically for the island," Miller says.

 Forecasters expect wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour along the coast tonight.  Hermine is currently moving northeast a few miles south of Charleston, S.C.  It will likely make a direct hit in Wilmington later this evening. 

Updated Friday 11:37 a.m.

Businesses in the eastern part of the state are bracing for Tropical Storm Hermine.  

The storm is making its way up the Atlantic coast from the Georgia-South Carolina border, but it's already dropping rain in central and eastern North Carolina. 

Mary Long owns The Basics restaurant in downtown Wilmington. She says the rain has been steady today, but has not yet flooded her area.

"It's nothing that our roads are not accustomed to handling.  I think the big concern for most of the citizens here is once we get the three to five inches this afternoon," Long said. "It just has been raining a good bit in the last couple of weeks so our water table is already pretty high."

Hermine has weakened since it made landfall in Florida, but its maximum sustained winds are still topping out at 60 miles per hour. 

Updated Friday 10:06 a.m.

Gov. Pat McCrory is urging residents of central and eastern North Carolina to take precautions as Tropical Storm Hermine churns through the Southeast.

"Our goal continues to be overprepared and underwhelmed," the governor said at a press conference Friday morning.

The outer bands of the storm are dropping rain from the Sandhills to the Outer Banks. Forecasters say coastal areas could get as many as 10 inches of rain before Hermine moves out to sea.

Updated 9:15 a.m.

Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Florida's Big Bend area early Friday as the first hurricane to hit the state in more than a decade, bringing soaking rain, high winds and thousands of power outages.

The Category 1 storm hit just east of St. Marks around 1:30 a.m. EDT with winds around 80 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Hermine later weakened to a tropical storm as it moved farther inland.

Hermine is projected to lose strength before it arrives in North Carolina, but forecasters warn heavy rain from the system could trigger flash flooding as far inland as Charlotte.

The storm is expected to move up the North Carolina coast Friday night and into Saturday, dumping two to five inches of rain in the Piedmont and up to seven inches of rain in the southeast.

The combination of rain and high winds will likely bring down trees across the Triangle, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Nick Petro.

"Thirty to forty mph wind gusts are expected, especially later Friday into Friday night, so when you combine the soggy soils with the high winds, you can get some downed trees," he said.

The National Weather Service has issued flash flood watches for much of central and southeastern North Carolina through Saturday morning.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.