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Update: Hurricane Earl Remains on Track to Impact the Outer Banks Parks


Five-day forecast cone and windspeeds forecast for Hurricane Earl at 8:00 a.m. EDT, September 1. NOAA.

Hurricane Earl, a large and powerful storm, remains on track to impact the national parks of North Carolina's Outer Banks region. The three national parks in the storm's crosshairs Cape Lookout National Seashore, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Wright Brothers National Memorial -- will continue to implement emergency plans for protecting people and property. Visitor evacuations are underway, facilities are being closed on a staggered schedule, and by 5:00 p.m. today the Outer Banks parks will be closed until further notice.

At nearby Roanoke Island, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site occupies a relatively protected location and has no seashore beaches. Emergency managers do not anticipate serious impacts there, but the park's visitor center will close at 5:00 p.m. today.

The post-storm assessments for the Outer Banks parks is scheduled for Friday, depending on the timing of the storm's arrival and its duration. Until the parks are re-opened, the seashore beaches are presumed to be unsafe for recreational use due to rough surf, dangerous rip currents, and ocean overwash. Off-road vehicle use is temporarily prohibited in the parks until conditions are once again deemed safe for ORV activity.

At 8:00 a.m. EDT, Hurricane Earl was located at 24.5 N 71.6 W (780 miles SSE of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina) and moving NW (310 degrees) at about 16 miles per hour. Bearing maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, and generating hurricane-force winds across a zone several hundred miles wide, the Category 3 storm is fluctuating in intensity (which is quite normal) and can be expected to attain Category 4 strength at times. This is a serious storm by any reasonable measure

Forecasters are confident that Earl's track, which has shifted westward a bit during the past few days, will bring it close to the Outer Banks and then northeastward along the Atlantic Coast before it eventually moves away from the mainland. However, they can't know exactly what path the storm will take over the next few days. Much depends on the storm's location relative to a trough of low pressure lying to the west. Where Earl will go, how strong it may become, and how heavily it will impact the Atlantic Coast depends a good deal on the trough's position as the hurricane nears the mainland.

The storm's effects will be apparent in the Outer Banks parks today, but won't reach their maximum extent until late Thursday.

Hurricanes are a familiar feature of Outer Banks weather. On average, the region gets brushed by a powerful storm every two or three years and takes a direct hit every seven or eight years. In July 2008, Hurricane Cristobal brought winds of 50 mph to the region.

Emergency planners at Gateway National Recreation Area in New York/New Jersey and Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts are watching this storm with growing concern. The 5-day forecast cone and estimates of associated maximum windspeeds strongly suggest that these parks, and perhaps those in the Mid-Atlantic, may be in for a rough patch by Friday.


Why is it that when there is an oil spill in the gulf the people run to relocate turtle nests, but when a hurricane strikes no one mentions the fact that roughly 100 nests are left to surely perish? Ironic isn't it!

Sam, I think the big difference is that the oil spill was caused by man, while hurricanes are part of nature.

That excuse is used only when it benefits you. Please see Cape Hatteras NPS killing of nature by the hundereds to protect a few birds? Sound familiar. This is so typical to use a statement or science that fits the moment or your cause.

"Sam, I think the big difference is that the oil spill was caused by man, while hurricanes are part of nature."

Really? I thought the number one perogative was to propogate turtles so there is more of them, regarless of the cause. Isn't that why they are closing the beach, to allow turtles to propogate? If they(turtle eggs) can be moved in other places, why not in Hatteras? There's going to be a whole lot of dead turtle eggs in Hatty because they weren't moved in anticipation of this hurricane. That really helped(not moving the eggs) out scientists, thank's a lot. Seem's like turtle blood is on the hands of the scientists.

Darren I hope you understand I am on your side... and that the deaths of these turtles is another example of the DOI, NPS and the Enviro's Playing GOD by picking and choosing what survives and why.

Is the deaths of hundereds of predators that are trying to eat as nature intended a "Natural" Event? The enviromentalist will have you believe they are trying to save a plover by killing a fox (or dozens of them). When in reality most of these birds die at the claws of a ghost crab.

Back to the point. The fact that someone (NPS, Enviro, President Obama, DOI, etc) made the decision to let thousands of turtles die at the expense of a "Natural Event" and waste hundereds of man hours to set up these closures and netting around each of the hundered or so nests that remained. they also will not be required to account for all of the materials (netting, string, posts, signage) that are now introduced to the environment.

Enviros will always win because humans that go against their asperations are not cute and cuddly and if they don't they will do as Mr Lee did in Maryland @ discovery.

Seems illogical.. if a species is truely endangered, any help to save potential hatchlings seems prudent. Perhaps there is more involved with this philosphy? If the resource was rapidly recovering, there is less opportunity to leverage concern for them in other areas, such as reducing the use of the Park. Sounds cynical but seems to be the most obvious motive..

How appropriate that on the day that the Hurricane is striking our beautiful Recreation Area... the Islanders are launching their response to the Environmental (lawyers) Focus Groups. The only ones that gain in this whole deal are the lawyer, after they sue the US Gov... and win on pseudo-science... unproven studies and a pool of SPIN MONEY... they get to collect from the same Gov that they beat in court.

Finally, reasonable voices of the residents are going to heard. for all you Social Media types... check out the words of the People-Residents and Business folks of the island and the truth behind what's happening there.

Remember, remember, remember.... the only people making money on this are the LAWYERS!!!! No birds, no turtles, no residents....they are losing their lives and lively hoods.

It is not about lawyers making money but rather a few individuals who usurped a National Park under the pretence of “recreation” so they can continue their business of catering to a special interest group of visitors (ORV users). Regulations that regulate vehicle use in this National Park are overdue and have been inadequate for a long time.

The fishing/ORV community is more concerned with finding fault with NPS policies than protecting wildlife as demonstrated by their fishing activities, such as specific targeting of fish for catch and release that are prohibited from landing by both state and federal regulations and the tens of thousand of bait fish to catch them with.

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