Monday, December 4, 2023

Flash flood watch in effect for tri-county region as Tropical Storm Ophelia approaches

Tropical Cyclone 16 has officially become Tropical Storm Ophelia, according to the National Weather Service and will affect the Cape Fear region overnight. (Courtesy National Weather Service)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Tropical Cyclone 16 has officially become Tropical Storm Ophelia, according to the National Weather Service.

READ MORE: Early releases, closures, postponements due to tropical storm warning

The tropical storm is expected to approach the North Carolina coast Friday night and make landfall before moving north Saturday. Friday evening Ophelia was located more than 100 miles southeast of the Wilmington, traveling roughly 13 miles per hour.

Winds gusts have increased, expected up to 60 miles per hour in some areas overnight (a category 1 hurricane has 74 to 95 miles-per-hour winds). Sustained low-impact winds, up to 35 miles per hour, will affect most of the region.

Rainfall could reach 6 to 8 inches in portions of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, though further inland will receive 3 to 6 inches.

Storm surge may reach 1 to 3 feet, with ocean over-wash possibly reaching dunes, tidal creeks and other coastal areas. Surge will rise most during high tide.

Some flash flooding is possible in low-lying areas or regions with poor drainage. A flash-flood warning is in effect in the tri-county region and a high surf advisory has been issued from the Cape Fear to Surf City, with large swells and dangerous rip currents.

Officials recommend drivers stay off the roads to avoid unsafe conditions. In addition to flooding, the storm’s impact could lead to some downed limbs or trees and power outages.

While Ophelia will move north by Saturday to southeastern Virginia, its aftereffects could be felt through the weekend with residual unsafe marine conditions. As well, heavy rainfall could lead to flooding as the Northeast Cape Fear River crests near Burgaw.

Governor Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency in North Carolina Friday to waive transportation regulations to help with a swift recovery and response.

“It is important for North Carolinians to prepare for potential impacts from the coming storm,” Cooper said in a press release. “The storm’s path has been difficult to predict and we want to ensure that farmers, first responders and utility crews have the tools necessary to prepare for severe weather.”

North Carolina Emergency Management suggests below tips to keep individuals prepared:

  • Pay close attention to your local weather forecast, and be aware of conditions expected in your area.
  • Have a way to receive weather watches and warnings, like a weather app on your cell phone.
  • Follow directions from your local emergency officials.
  • Do not drive on flooded roads – Turn around, don’t drown.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of power outages. Use battery powered light sources – avoid candles.
  • If your power goes out, never use generators or barbecue grills in your home or garage – they create deadly carbon monoxide fumes that can kill.
  • Stay away from any downed power lines and report them to your power company.
  • Visit for instructions on how to prepare and assemble your family emergency kit and templates for an emergency plan.
  • Visit for information on road closings from NC Department of Transportation.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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