The Outer Banks of North Carolina is adored by so many. From locals to travelers far and wide, artists to fishermen, surfers to cycling enthusiasts, there is something to offer everyone on this sliver of East Coast paradise. There is a unique beauty to each of the four traditional seasons on the Outer Banks as well, making it a renowned destination any time of the year. Spring time showcases the blooming flowers and regeneration of life on the islands. Summer time is of course filled with blue skies, perfect beach days and what many say are the most magnificent sunsets of all. The fall boasts pitch perfect autumn weather, barrels for the surfers and great fishing, while winter offers true tranquility and time to strengthen bonds with family, friends, and neighbors.
Unfortunately there is one season on the Outer Banks no one enjoys talking about, let alone experiencing: Hurricane season. It runs from June 1 to the end of November and has the ability to damage our homes, businesses, economy, and all the hidden gems in between that we have come to love about this place. I don't think anyone would have the slightest problem if the Outer Banks never had to deal with the aftermath of a hurricane again. But for visitors and residents alike, information and resources need to be readily available in order to be properly prepared to face this type of storm, especially as storms grow in size, power and frequency. Whether you're visiting Hatteras Island for a week or living here year round, here's what you need to know.
What to Do During a Hurricane Watch
A watch means that there is a real chance a hurricane is headed toward the Outer Banks. In the event of a watch, there are some preliminary steps to take in order to prepare for the storm, such as tuning in to regular weather bulletins, fueling your vehicles, take stock of your emergency supplies (food, water, batteries, first aid kits, etc.) and resupply if necessary, planning your evacuation route and destination, and other preparedness measures. See Dare County Emergency Management's full Hurricane Watch checklist.
To ensure your families well-being during and after a heavy storm, an emergency kit is a necessity. Basic supplies and first aid items to have on hand can be found here. Don't forget about our furry family members, too! Be prepared with Ready NC's emergency kit and safety tips for your pets.
Know Your Surroundings and Flood Risks
It is always a good idea to know your environmental surroundings on the Outer Banks, especially here on Hatteras Island. See the North Carolina Flood Risk Information System Map. Select Dare County and the map will inform you of what type of flood zone you are in and its base flood elevation. These pieces of information are vital in forecasting where flooding can be expected and elevated dry areas where you may need to move your car or other belongings.
What to Do During a Hurricane Warning
A warning means that winds upwards of 73 MPH are expected in the area within 24 hours. When a warning is issued, it is of utmost importance to complete storm safety measures, including boarding up windows and executing your evacuation plan, especially if instructed to do so by officials. See Dare County Emergency Managements full Hurricane Warning checklist. To ensure your home or rental property is prepared to take on the elements, it is also a good idea to use our ten point Hurricane Preparation Checklist:
- Tightly lock and secure ALL doors and windows
- Turn picnic tables upside down
- Bring all deck furniture and anything that may be blown away inside
- Unplug all appliances, TVs, VCRs, DVDs and stereos
- Bring trash cans in from the road and store in outside shower/storage area
- Secure all hot tub covers with the provided straps
- Set thermostats to OFF position
- Turn off refrigerator and prop refrigerator and freezer doors open with chair
- Turn main power off at breaker panel
- Close all blinds, make sure door is locked behind you and screen door is tightly latched
In the case of a mandatory evacuation, it is imperative to follow the orders of local emergency officials at all times and to be prepared to get on the road as quickly as possible. Completing all of the preparation measures during the Hurricane Watch will make this process much quicker and safer. See the NCDOT's Hurricane Evacuation Map ahead of time so you know where to go.
Staying Up to the Minute on Emergency Information
In the event of an oncoming storm it is essential to continually stay up to the minute on the forecasts, evacuation alerts, and any other developing news relevant to the storm. Many local radio and TV stations air Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages. You can also get alerts on NOAA weather radios or through Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) text messages sent to your phone.
On Hatteras Island, tune in to these local radio stations for storm information:
NOAA Weather Radio: 162.550
AM WOBR: 1530
FM WOBR: 95.3
FM WCXL: 104.1
FM WERX: 102.5
FM WKJX: 96.7
FM WNHW: 92.5
FM WRSR: 105.7