Weather News

Hurricane Dorian reshaped part of the Outer Banks shoreline, Park Service says

Dorian’s landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina did more than flood coastal communities — it reshaped parts of the barrier islands, early damage assessments show.

The National Park Service Incident Management Team said it deployed 68 employees to take stock of the aftermath and found dozens of new inlets carved into part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

“There are approximately 54 new inlets cutting through from the Atlantic Ocean to the Core Sound at various points of North Core Banks,” officials said in an advisory Monday.

Merriam-Webster defines inlets as tiny recesses in the shoreline or narrow waterways leading through a barrier island to a bay.

The seashore is a 56-mile stretch of the Southern Outer Banks running from Ocracoke in the north to Beaufort in the south, according to the National Park Service. It’s comprised of bare beaches, low dunes, flat grasslands and “large expanses of salt marsh.”

North Core Banks — where the new inlets were discovered — sits toward the northern tip on Portsmouth Island and is already marked by a maze of inlets, marshes and sand.

Those new inlets will fill in on their own over time, Cape Lookout National Seashore said on Facebook.

“Some may close faster than others, it will depend on conditions,” the post states. “If you’d like an example: Old Drum Inlet, just down (the) island from Long Point Camp, is a naturally occurring inlet that has been opened many times over the years by storms and which eventually closes.”

The park service update on Monday is just the latest notch in a string of preliminary reports detailing Dorian’s effect on the coast — including maps released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which offer a comprehensive look at the storm’s slow crawl up the eastern seaboard.

Cape Lookout National Seashore even asked on Facebook how many new cuts and inlets viewers could pick out.

In addition to topographical changes, officials with the park service said 38 historic structures at at the seashore’s Portsmouth Village sustained some kind of flooding or wind-related damages.

Portsmouth is a historic sea village with old buildings and exhibits indicative of the area’s history, according to the park service.

Long Point cabin camp south of Portsmouth was also hit with infrastructure damage — “including a major breach of an ocean inlet cut through to Core Sound,” officials said.

Reservations at the Long Point Cabins have subsequently been canceled through the remainder of the season, which runs until Nov. 30. Great Island Cabin reservations were canceled through Sept. 15, according to the park service.

As of Monday, the park service was still dissuading the public from traveling to any part of the national seashore.

Gov. Roy Cooper said North Carolina Emergency Management and FEMA will begin conducting their own preliminary damage assessments at the coast this week, according to a release.

Roughly 1,500 people on Ocracoke Island at the top of the national seashore are still without power, the governor said.

“State agencies and our partners will continue to deliver supplies and aid until our coast has recovered from Hurricane Dorian,” Cooper said in a statement.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.