A tropical storm warning remains in effect Monday for much of the North Carolina coast as Hurricane Maria churns the Atlantic 350 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras.
The warning – which means tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours – covers the coast from Cape Lookout to Duck, including the vast Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. Cape Lookout is on the state’s central coast while Duck is on the northern Outer Banks.
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A storm surge watch, meaning potentially life-threatening inland flooding is possible over the next 48 hours, is also in effect for the same area. Two to 4 feet of surge-related flooding is possible, depending on tides, and 1 to 2 inches of rain is expected over the Outer Banks through Wednesday.
Hyde County officials on Sunday ordered a mandatory evacuation of visitors to Ocracoke Island, effective at 5 a.m. Monday.
The National Hurricane Center expects Maria to stay well offshore Monday and Tuesday. The Category 1 storm has sustained winds of 80 mph and is moving north at 7 mph. Forecasters expect Maria to veer eastward into the open Atlantic later this week.
But because Maria is a large hurricane, tropical storm-force winds of up to 73 mph are possible up to 230 miles from its center.