Flood warnings issued for Mid-Atlantic coast as Ophelia transitions to post-tropical low and heads north

On the evening of Saturday, Tropical Storm Ophelia underwent a transformation, being officially downgraded to a post-tropical low.

Nonetheless, this weather system retained its potential to inflict coastal flooding and flash floods upon the mid-Atlantic region, as declared by the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The impact of Ophelia had already been felt earlier that day, as residents residing in certain coastal areas of North Carolina and Virginia encountered flooding.

The storm had made landfall near a barrier island in North Carolina, subjecting the region to heavy rainfall, damaging winds, and perilous surges.

As the clock struck 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center reported that Ophelia, now weakened to a feeble tropical storm, was positioned approximately 30 miles (50 kilometers) south-southwest of Richmond, Virginia, and roughly 85 miles (135 kilometers) southeast of Charlottesville, Virginia.

At this time, the storm’s maximum sustained winds were recorded at 35 mph (55 kph), accompanied by gusts of even greater intensity.

According to the center, coastal flood warnings and flood watches continue to be in effect for certain portions of the region.

These warnings and watches are crucial in alerting residents and authorities about the potential risks and hazards associated with coastal flooding.

The persistence of these alerts highlights the importance of preparedness and vigilance in coastal areas, where the impacts of flooding can be particularly severe.

By issuing these warnings and watches, the center aims to ensure that individuals and communities are well-informed and can take appropriate measures to protect themselves and their property from the potential dangers posed by coastal flooding.

It is imperative for residents and authorities to closely monitor the situation and adhere to any guidance or instructions provided by the center in order to mitigate the potential risks and minimize the potential damages caused by flooding.

According to the center, the center of Ophelia is anticipated to change its course towards the north-northeast and northeast, traversing through eastern Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula until Sunday.

The center further stated that regions spanning from Virginia to New Jersey are likely to encounter a rainfall ranging from 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 centimeters), with certain areas possibly receiving up to 5 inches (12.7 centimeters).

Notably, some coastal communities in New Jersey, such as Sea Isle City, have already witnessed instances of flooding on Saturday.

Additionally, parts of southeastern New York and southern New England may also experience rainfall between 1 to 3 inches.

Concurrently, the center has indicated that surf swells are expected to impact a significant portion of the East Coast throughout the weekend.

Philippe Papin, a hurricane specialist from the center, has emphasized that the primary concern moving forward will be the potential for floods resulting from the heavy rainfall.

According to meteorologist Papin, the tropical storm-force winds that were previously observed are gradually subsiding as the system moves further inland.

However, the threat of significant flooding rainfall remains for a large portion of eastern North Carolina and southern Virginia over the next 12 to 24 hours.

The storm made landfall near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, on Saturday morning, accompanied by winds close to hurricane strength, reaching 70 mph (113 kph).

As the system moved north, the winds weakened, as reported by the center. Social media videos showcased riverfront communities in North Carolina, including New Bern, Belhaven, and Washington, grappling with substantial flooding.

The extent of the damage caused by the storm is yet to be determined. Prior to reaching land, Ophelia posed a significant danger, leading to the Coast Guard rescuing five individuals, including three children under the age of 10, from a 38-foot (12-meter) catamaran anchored in Lookout Bight in Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

The sailboat’s owner contacted the Coast Guard via cellphone, initiating a nighttime rescue mission. The crew utilized flares to navigate to the sailboat, assisted the individuals on board, and left the boat behind.

A Coast Guard helicopter illuminated the path back to the station, ensuring a safe return. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries.

As of Saturday afternoon, a significant number of homes and businesses in various eastern counties of North Carolina remained without electricity, according to poweroutage.us, an organization that monitors utility reports.

Duke Energy’s map displayed scattered power outages across a considerable portion of eastern North Carolina, as strong winds caused tree limbs to topple and power lines to become entangled.

The combination of a slow-moving storm, which brought several inches of rain, and gusts reaching speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour proved sufficient to bring down trees and limbs, as explained by Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks in an interview with WTVD-TV on Saturday.

While there were reports of downed trees, no major road closures were reported, according to Brian Haines, a representative for the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management.

Meanwhile, at the southern tip of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Carl Cannon Jr. expressed hope in salvaging some of the ongoing Beaufort Pirate Invasion, a multiday event commemorating the 1747 Spanish attack on the town.

Unfortunately, the winds had already demolished the large tent intended for a banquet scheduled on Saturday, damaging or destroying several other tents as well.

Nevertheless, Cannon Jr. remained optimistic that the inclement weather conditions would allow pirate reenactors to engage in a clash on Sunday in Beaufort.

He stated, “If I can get the boats out there, we will have an attack, and the people will fight on the shore.”

On Friday, the governors of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland made the decision to declare a state of emergency, a move that highlights the seriousness of the situation at hand.

While it is not uncommon for the East Coast to experience the development of tropical storms or hurricanes, National Hurricane Center Director Michael Brennan emphasized the current vulnerability due to the peak of hurricane season.

In an interview, Brennan noted that storms could potentially form across a significant portion of the Atlantic basin.

Alarming as it may be, scientists have suggested that climate change could play a role in the increased frequency of storms like Hurricane Lee, which struck earlier this month.

A study examining the impact of climate change on tropical cyclone tracks found that hurricanes may more frequently approach the coasts, including areas such as Boston, New York City, and Virginia.

Furthermore, the Southeast coast could experience a higher likelihood of storm formation. These findings shed light on the potential consequences of climate change and the need for proactive measures to mitigate its impact on vulnerable regions.

The recent storm that struck several areas over the weekend has had varying degrees of impact on the affected regions.

While some areas were hit hard, others witnessed a more modest impact. In Williamsburg, Virginia, Aaron Montgomery, a 38-year-old resident, noticed a leak in the roof of his family’s new home.

Despite this setback, he and his family were still able to make the hour-long drive to Virginia Beach for his wife’s birthday celebration.

Although the surf and wind were strong, the rain had stopped, allowing them to enjoy their time at the beach.

However, Montgomery acknowledged that the leak in their roof was a significant issue that needed to be addressed promptly.

As he put it, “No leak in a roof is insignificant, so it’s certainly something we have to deal with Monday morning.” This statement highlights the importance of taking proactive measures to address even seemingly minor issues, as they can have significant consequences if left unattended.