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Contact: BG Horvat, 252-728-2250 ext. 3005
Harkers Island, NC – At this time we are beginning the effort to close the park based on the forecast of Hurricane Maria. 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 expected winds small craft advisory and conditions are expected to deteriorate as the week progresses.
Hurricane Maria is forecast to be a Category One Hurricane. The National Weather Service is forecasting the North Carolina coast to experience significant impacts. Hurricane force winds could begin as early as Tuesday and continue throughout the week. Currently the park is still being affected by wash over from Hurricane Jose. The amount of rain we receive will largely depend on the exact track and forward speed of Maria. Heavy rainfall and flash flooding are possible.
We are expecting a small craft advisory to be in effect due to strong winds and seas of 5 to 8 feet. Marine conditions may deteriorate rapidly moving into the week.
As Maria 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 Tuesday, September 26, 2017.
Reservations at Great Island and Long Point Cabin Camps are also canceled for Tuesday 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 Acting Superintendent Katherine Cushinberry, “Our decision is being made to ensure public safety.” The National Park Service staff will be monitoring ongoing developments with Hurricane Maria and will post updates as needed on the park website at www.nps.gov/calo and via Facebook at www.facebook.com/CapeLookoutNPS and Twitter at twitter.com/CapeLookoutNPS.