Mandatory evacuation issued for Hatteras Island visitors ahead of Hurricane Maria

Mandatory evacuation issued for Hatteras Island visitors ahead of Hurricane Maria

Kerry Wise
September 27, 2017

A mandatory evacuation was ordered for visitors on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina on Sunday ahead of Hurricane Maria.

The Hurricane Center says it was centered about 475 miles (765 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina before noon Sunday.

The latest forecast from the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, "Maria is moving toward the north near 7 miles per hour [11 km/h], and this general motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected through Tuesday night". A tropical storm warning was in effect for a swath of the North Carolina coast from Bogue Inlet to the Virginia border.

Schools were closed Tuesday in all of Dare County because of expected tropical storm conditions.

While it won't make proper landfall, Maria is the third hurricane to affect the United States in recent weeks, after Harvey and Irma.

Hurricane Maria is slowly moving northward well offshore in the Atlantic, kicking up large ocean swells along much of the U.S. East Coast.

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"The latest track for Maria shows it loitering off our coast from later Tuesday through Thursday", said WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth.

Maria is a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

That's after the storm destroyed the island of Dominica, killing at least 15 people there. Former Hurricane Jose is to thank for that. It also hammered the Dominican Republic, the US Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos, a British overseas territory.

While the past month has been devastating, the 2017 season doesn't end until November 30 and warm ocean temperatures suggest there are still more storms to come, said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University seasonal hurricane forecast.

The National Hurricane Center has urged those on the Carolina and Mid-Atlantic coasts to monitor the particularly large storm.

If that happens, Maria's impacts on Puerto Rico could easily reach $60 billion to $70 billion, Watson said.