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New Hanover County Officials say Storm Surge, Overwash, Coastal Flooding will Impact Area Beaches

U.S. Geological Survey
Hurricane Dennis battered the Outer Banks of North Carolina for many days during its 1999 landfall. Large waves caused considerable beach erosion. Joaquin is not predicted to make landfall near Wilmington.

Storm surge, coastal flooding, and beach erosion.  Those are the likely impacts from the combination of a wet system moving up from the Gulf of Mexico and the arrival of Hurricane Joaquin – now a Category Four storm.  But New Hanover County Emergency officials say it won’t be until Friday afternoon that they’ll have any confidence in the forecast track for Joaquin.

Warren Lee is New Hanover County’s Emergency Management Director.  He says that Joaquin’s forecast track has changed with almost every update.  Even if the storm stays out to sea, as some European models predict, the Cape Fear region will likely have to cope with storm surge.  And that’s projected to occur during high tide. 

"However, of the high tide cycles, it’s going to come at the better of the high tide cycles.  Right now, it looks like maximum surge is going to occur at the 1 am high tide on Sunday morning… We are expecting a significant impact on our beaches.  If we do have that kind of surge, we’re looking at a lot of overwash, significant erosion, and definitely some coastal flooding."

The areas impacted earlier this week are likely to see another round of floods, according to Lee.  That includes Canal Drive in Carolina Beach, River Road, and Water Street in downtown Wilmington.  Officials say they could decide to open shelters but will make that decision when Joaquin’s impacts are clearer.