Cape Lookout National Seashore is telling tourists to evacuate by Tuesday morning, in advance of “extremely dangerous” Hurricane Dorian’s track toward the Outer Banks park.
The Category 4 hurricane is predicted to turn north up the East Coast overnight Monday, bringing days of devastating wind and rain to the Outer Banks.
Nearby Cape Hatteras National Seashore announced soon after that all visitor services at Cape Hatteras, Fort Raleigh and Wright Brothers Memorial would be suspended Sept. 2 “until the storm passes.”
Cape Lookout began telling tourists to start packing Sunday afternoon.
“Steps are being taken to evacuate those on the islands and to close down operations out on the islands and at the mainland visitor centers,” Cape Lookout said in a Facebook post.
“The park will close on Tuesday (Sept 3) at 10:00 am until after the storm has passed. All visitors and vehicles must be off the islands by Tuesday.”
Hurricane Dorian’s tropical winds will arrive in North Carolina overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, and the storm’s eye is projected to be off the Outer Banks around 2 a.m. Friday, says the National Hurricane Center. Isolated areas of the coast could see as much as 15 inches of rain, forecasters say.
Mass evacuations of the Outer Banks and surrounding coastal counties are common in advance of tropical storms.
The low lying islands are among the most vulnerable areas on the East Coast to storms. Passing hurricanes frequently flood the islands, knock out power and wash out NC Highway 12, the major highway linking the islands to the mainland. The highway is frequently closed as storms pass.
In some instances, passing storms have wiped small islands off the map, including Shelly Island, which vanished last year.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore says the hurricane is expected to impact the park Wednesday, creating storm surge and “a high risk of rip currents, causing life threatening conditions.”