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Contact: Patrick Kenney, 252-728-2250, ext. 3014
Harkers Island, NC –At this time we are beginning the effort to close the park based on the forecast of Hurricane Matthew. We are making this decision to ensure that we can effectively evacuate the islands in a safe manner and secure the park to protect federal property and ensure staff safety. The storm track is not good for Eastern North Carolina and the National Weather Service is advising to prepare for this storm, especially for vulnerable areas such as the barriers islands. In addition, due to the Northeast winds the area is under a small craft advisory and conditions are expected to deteriorate as the week progresses.
Hurricane Matthew is forecast to be a Category Two Hurricane. The National Weather Service is forecasting the North Carolina coast to experience significant impacts. Hurricane force winds could begin as early as Friday and continue throughout the weekend. The amount of rain we receive will largely depend on the exact track and forward speed of Matthew. Heavy rainfall and flash flooding are possible.
Currently, there is a small craft advisory in effect due to strong northeast winds and seas of 5 to 8 feet. Marine conditions will deteriorate rapidly moving into the weekend.
As Matthew approaches, the threat of rip currents will increase to 'High' across the area. Due to storm conditions, Cape Lookout National Seashore is issuing a mandatory evacuation order for the park. Effective immediately, no vehicles should be delivered to the park. The vehicle ferries shall immediately begin to remove visitors and vehicles from the islands. The goal is to get everyone off as soon as possible. The cabins will be closed on Wednesday (10/5/16). Day users (without vehicles) are still allowed to travel to the islands for today.
Reservations at Great Island and Long Point Cabin Camps are also canceled for Wednesday night and until further notice. Visitors with reservations should be monitoring the weather conditions. Reservations canceled due to weather will be issued a full refund at www.recreation.gov, or call, (877) 444-6777.
According to Superintendent Pat Kenney, "Our decision is being made to ensure public safety." The National Park Service staff will be monitoring ongoing developments with Hurricane Matthew and will post updates as needed on the park website at www.nps.gov/calo and via Facebook and Twitter at twitter.com/CapeLookoutNPS.