‘Stay out of the Atlantic Ocean,’ Cape Hatteras warns as Florence edges closer to NC

The deadly rip currents plaguing the North Carolina coast will worsen this weekend as Hurricane Florence edges closer to Wilmington, experts say.

Warnings were issued Friday morning, with the National Weather Service predicting the storm is “likely to cause life-threatening surf” along Carolinas beaches.

“While significant uncertainty remains in the eventual track of Hurricane Florence, we know that the swell from the storm will begin to impact area beaches this weekend,” said the statement issued out of Morehead City, N.C.

“That means an increased risk for rip currents, dangerous surf, and potentially coastal wave run-up and beach erosion.”

On Saturday, Cape Hatteras National Seashore posted its own warning that waters off the National Park would be dangerous in coming days. The park is “strongly urging all beach visitors to stay out of the Atlantic Ocean until dangerous conditions subside.”

Park officials are also predicting that beach access ramps and routes “may be impassable if the storm continues its current track.”

The storm is expected to strengthen over the weekend, National Weather Service officials say.

There have been nine rip current deaths and two “high surf” deaths so far this year off N.C., says the National Weather Service.

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Strange instances of large-scale beach erosion have also taken place, including a “10-foot cliff” that appeared in July at Nags Head. The steep drop-off caused the town to close one of its most popular beach access areas for weeks.

National Park Service officials said last week that the ongoing erosion has also put two of the state’s most iconic lighthouse sites -- Bodie and Ocracoke -- at risk of being flooded for days at a time.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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