High tides from Hurricane Florence break state records along NC coast, NOAA says

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National Hurricane Center predictions that Hurricane Florence would “pile up water” along the North Carolina coast came true on Friday, when the storm broke multiple tide records, some dating back more than six decades.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tide gauge in Wrightsville Beach reached 4.11 feet above high tide on Friday, breaking a record set by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 by more than a foot, NOAA officials said.

That’s more than 4 feet above where the ocean typically sits at its highest level.

It happened at 11 a.m. Friday, just 15 minutes before the storm’s eyewall moved ashore directly on top of Wrightsville Beach, NOAA said in a tweet. Maximum winds at the time were 90 mph, reported the NHC.

Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm, was blamed for 34 deaths in September and October of 2015, including 33 crewmen on a ship, said an NHC report. Joaquin caused widespread flooding in the Carolinas and Virginia, due in part to rainfall that exceeded 26 inches in some places, says the report.

NOAA said other sites along the coast also reported record tides, including Beaufort where the ocean was 3.74 feet above high tide. That broke a 63-year-old record set by Hurricane Ione, NOAA said.

“On the Atlantic coast, water levels from Wilmington, NC to Chesapeake Bay entrance are between 1.5 and 3.5 feet above normal tide levels,” said NOAA in a report.

Residents and news outlets in Wrightsville Beach tweeted out photos around the time of the high tide, showing the impact the storm had on waters in the the Banks Channel.

The images showed water spilling from the channel through fences onto the boardwalk, then pouring into the town where streets turned into river.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs