Updated: NC 12 still closed; salt build up on lines knocks out power to Hatteras, Ocracoke

Residents of one Buxton neighborhood broke out the waders to get around in the overwash from an Oct. 2019 storm. [Don Bowers/Island Free Press photo]

More overwash Friday night and Saturday morning have kept N.C. 12 closed from Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe. And to add to the misery, electricity was knocked out to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands by salt build-up on power equipment.

Just as N.C. Department of Transportation crews had been able to clear the road at S-Turns of several feet of sand that had been washed over the pavement by waves from distant Subtropical Storm Melissa, Friday evening’s high tide covered the road again.

Another vehicle lost to the overwash, this time in Buxton. [Don Bowers/Island Free Press photo]

The persistent onshore flow this week has allowed salt to build up just about every exposed surface on the Outer Banks, and that can lead to problems for local power companies.

“Several days of northeast winds and no rain can cause salt to deposit and build up on the electrical system. This results in crackling, sparking, arching and occasionally power outages,” Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative posted on their Facebook page.

Power to all of Hatteras Island was knocked out between 1 and 2 a.m. on Saturday. It took several hours to locate a switch issue on Pea Island. And then a unique fix was implemented.

“The Nags Head Fire Dept was able to wash the salt contamination off and transmission has been restored to all of Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island,” the co-op said Saturday around 9 a.m.

Multiple vehicles got stuck trying to cross the overwash at S-Turns north of Rodanthe. [Waters Edge Rodanthe/Facebook photo]

Multiple vehicles were trapped in the sand and salt water north of Mirlo Beach on Thursday night and again Friday morning.

Saltwater from the ocean has also covered N.C. 12 in the Kinnakeet Shores area of Avon and washed across the highway at the motels on the north end of Buxton and at the entrance to Hatteras village.

“Crews will be working diligently to clear the roadway when conditions permit, but each high tide cycle brings ocean overwash and sand back onto the highway. Even when open, motorists should proceed with extreme caution and never drive into floodwaters,” Hass said.

Another period of overwash is expected with high tide on Saturday around 8 p.m., but it may not be as severe as the last two high tide cycles.

Just north of Rodanthe on Thursday evening. [Photo by Kristina Daugherty]

The Avon Pier reported Saturday morning they had taken quite a bit of damage.

The nor’easter centered southeast of New England producing the high surf and gusty winds this week gained enough characteristics overnight to be classified as hybrid system known as a subtropical storm.

“Melissa is expected to slowly weaken and move away from the U.S. east coast today, resulting in a gradual decrease in wind and coastal flooding impacts,” the National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning.

At 5 a.m. on Saturday, the center of the storm was located 235 miles south-southeast of Nantucket, Mass. with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Winds of 40 mph extend outward up to 275 miles from the center.

About Sam Walker 1512 Articles
Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.