03 October, 2017
Storm and surge watches and warnings have been issued for parts of North Carolina, with tropical storm conditions and unsafe flooding possible within the next few days.
Officials estimate more than 10,000 people have left the Outer Banks as Maria moves closer.
The National Hurricane Center said at its 11 a.m. advisory that Lee has powered up to 115 miles per hour, making it a Category 3 storm and the fifth tropical cyclone this season to earn the title of major hurricane.
Gradual weakening is in the forecast with Maria expected to become a tropical storm on Tuesday night. Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson warned that travel would remain hazardous for the foreseeable future, particularly on Hatteras Island.
However, they are still expected to bring wet and windy weather, with swells of up to ten feet. Wave heights along the shore will increase during the next few days, creating risky surf and increased chances of rip currents.
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The National Weather Service in Morehead City said significant beach erosion is expected north of Cape Lookout.
Hyde County spokesman Donnie Shumate said in a statement that Ocracoke Island's evacuation order was lifted at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Increasing wind shear (solid red lines) will weaken the maximum sustained winds of Maria over the next few days. The system is about 275 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 470 miles northwest of Bermuda.
"Storm surge flooding is occurring, especially along the sound side of the North Carolina Outer Banks, and a storm surge warning and watch are in effect for portions of eastern North Carolina".