Communities along North Carolina’s Outer Banks have launched text-messaging systems as another way to get emergency alerts to residents, guests and property owners.
At the start of the 2018 North Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, Dare County’s emergency management office announced a new emergency alert system. Users can sign up to get texts, emails or phone calls in the event of an emergency. Notifications could include mandatory evacuation orders, hurricane advisories and bulletins, re-entry information and other announcements.
On Monday, the county added a category for beach conditions in an effort to let people know when it’s too dangerous to swim. The system issued a "Beach Hazards Statement" early Tuesday with a link to a National Weather Service warning about the high risk of rip tides on all Outer Banks beaches in Dare and Hyde counties, and all beaches in Onslow and Carteret counties, where the surf is running at 3 to 5 feet. The highest risk of rip tides, the alert says, is within a couple of hours before or after low tide, which will occur around 11:30 a.m. The warning is in effect through 8 p.m. Tuesday.
A man drowned off Kill Devil Hills on Saturday , despite red flags posted at lifeguard stations indicating it wasn’t safe to go in the ocean.
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Officials are watching Tropical Storm Chris as it lurks offshore generating rough seas and riptide hazards. The storm is expected to stay away from land but to strengthen over the next 36 hours as it moves to the northeast.
Users can sign up for the new alerts and manage subscriptions here. Mobile phone users can text “DareEmergencyAlerts” to 30890 for the general alerts and send ”OBXBeachConditions” to the same number for messages about the surf. Enrolling in the system is free, but normal texting charges apply.
The county says that the towns of Manteo, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores and Duck are currently using the system as well. In May, the county said, the town of Duck alerted subscribers that a black bear had been spotted on the beach.