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Hurricane Florence's 'life-threatening' storm surge pours over Outer Banks' NC 12

The Charlotte Observer logo The Charlotte Observer 9/13/2018 Mark Price

Hurricane Florence's "life threatening" storm surge arrived Thursday morning, breaching dunes and sending white water and sand washing across the only highway linking North Carolina's barrier islands in the Outer Banks.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation tweeted a photo of highway NC 12, showing sand had covered one lane by 7:30 a.m Thursday.

"As expected, conditions are worsening on Highway 12 in the usual spots," said the tweet. "This is a picture of the S-Curves north of Rodanthe this morning, with high tide still a few hours away. While the road is still "passable" right now, travel is not advised."

The Weather Channel reported at 10:30 a.m. Thursday that the ocean had risen 1.1 feet at Hatteras Island since the storm's arrival just before dawn.

The National Hurricane Center warned Thursday that the storm will "pile up water" along the coast. The hurricane's maximum wind speed slowed to 105 mph overnight, but experts predict 13 feet of storm surge will spill across some coastal areas, creating "catastrophic" and "life-threatening inundation," said a NHC statement issued Thursday.

FEMA said Thursday the ocean would also begin rising in a matter of hours in North Carolina's bays, sounds and coastal rivers, due to storm surge and "feet of rain" over a period of days.

The NC Coastal Review reported Wednesday that state transportation officials were focused this week on keeping the "island's lifeline" open, in anticipation of 50,000 people using NC 12 as a hurricane evacuation route.

Dare County Emergency Management tweeted out a video shortly after 8 am Thursday, showing the ocean churning white with surge and large waves at Jennettes' Pier near Nags Head.

The N.C. Ferry Division, which carries motorists to and from the Outer Banks, shut down all seven of its routes at 6 p.m. Wednesday. "The time has come to get our ferries to safe harbor and hunker down for the storm," said a ferry division tweet.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice—obs

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