Hurricane Maria could take a bite out of coastal North Carolina on Tuesday, with waves rising between 14 to 20 feet, forecasters said Sunday.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for Surf City northward to the Virginia border and for the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. A storm surge watch is in effect for Cape Lookout to Duck.
The Category 2 storm is expected to swoop roughly 130 miles offshore and produce extremely rough seas and overwash, said ABC meteorologist Steve Stewart.
“I think Highway 12 will be underwater,” Stewart said of the frequently washed-out Outer Banks road. “It’s way, way too dangerous to even think about swimming.”
Wrightsville Beach saw more than 25 rescues because of rip currents Saturday. The Coast Guard expected gale-force winds nearing 40 mph at Beaufort Inlet by Monday and warned pleasure boats to seek safe harbor.
Hurricane Maria is forecast to track up the southeastern coast of the United States, and winds from the storm are expected to reach North Carolina as early as Monday. The storm is not expected to make landfall.
While the storm had weakened Sunday, its maximum sustained winds were near 105 mph at 5 p.m., with higher gusts. Fluctuations in the storm’s strength are expected over the next day or so, according to the National Hurricane Center.