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Hurricane Isaias And Carteret County NC Near Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, And Down East – Historical Record

This is a historical record of Hurricane Isaias in August of 2020 if this tropical cyclone affects the Carteret County NC communities of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach, Salter Path, Emerald Isle, Morehead City, Beaufort, and areas down east near Harkers Island.

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Additionally, readers can use the discussion form below to ask questions about Hurricane Isaias as we record events related to this Atlantic storm, but also to leave detailed information about Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, Morehead City, Beaufort, and Harkers Island after the storm to include any information on disaster recovery efforts in the communities.

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All technical discussions and technical updates related to Hurricane Isaias are at the bottom of this document.

August 3 11:30 pm: Some controversy with this storm as it was undergoing rapid intensification at landfall. The NHC decided to go with 90 mph winds at landfall while many ground reporting stations indicated winds above 96 mph which is Category 2 winds.

August 3 8:00 pm: The NHC upgraded Isaias to a 75 mph Category 1 hurricane just 1-2 hours before landfall in Shallotte NC. The storm will then pass in to Eastern NC affecting cities from Wilson, to Greenville, to Kinston, and Goldsboro with the core of the storm. This system will then affect the Northeast with Tropical Storm force conditions. Here in Carteret County, expect a 1-2 foot storm surge, localized flooding, and very sporadic power outages.

August 3 6:15 am: The NHC nudged the track to the east a bit, now calling for landfall along Brunswick County in North Carolina and they are going with a minimal hurricane status being re-established just before landfall. The radar presentation of the storm looks much better and moving at 9 miles per hour one can certainly see where it was plenty of warm water to do that. It will also be interesting for our county to see if the track shift to the east continues. Cities such as Kinston, Wilson, and Greenville need to stay on high alert for flash flooding and wind.

August 2 5:00 pm: Tropical storm warning issued for the local area along with a storm surge watch. Winds are back up to 70 mph as the core circulation remains over watch but still being affected by dry air and shear.

August 2 9:42 am: Tropical Storm Isaias is expected not to regain hurricane status and make landfall near the SC to NC border, crossing the state near Raleigh, then up the Northeast.

August 1 3:36 pm: NC Governor Roy Cooper issues a statewide state of emergency ahead of weather from Isaias.

August 1 11:00 am: Government officials declare a State of Emergency ahead of the storm to free up resources to start making plans around evacuations and sheltering.

August 1 6:00 am: Official track came back east slightly but the intensity remains low. The 3 day official landfall was at the NC and SC border and now it’s near Hampstead and Holly Ridge NC. This will continue to pendulum swing today.

August 1 12:00 am: While the GFS and Euro models continue to show a more western track that will take the core of Isaias very close to land in FL, there is still considerable data showing a near miss. The NHC is going with landfall in FL, then back in to the Atlantic as a Tropical Storm, then in to the Carolinas. This clearly will decrease the intensity for the NC beaches and us in the county. However, under the near miss scenario, Isaias is free to maintain hurricane strength and then could be a formidable storm near the SC/NC border. On Saturday, continue to watch to see if the NHC and computer models are right which decreases some of the pressure for Carteret County, but if it’s a miss, continue to prepare for a hurricane.

July 31: It is important to remember that direct impacts from this hurricane is NOT where the storm makes landfall only. Dangerous storm surge and flooding, waterspouts, power outages, damaging wind, falling trees, and power outages will occur well away from the center of circulation. Do NOT focus on where the eye will make landfall. Prepare for the potential of power outages for up to 2 weeks, make plans for your pets and elderly. Voluntarily evacuate ahead of official orders if you have the means.

July 31: Now is the time for all residents to pay very close attention to this storm and to put all basic and advanced planning and preparations in place. Please know your evacuation routes and start to monitor local emergency management officials for any announcements on evacuation of Bogue Banks and other down east communities.

July 31: Became Hurricane Isaias a full 16 hours before the National Hurricane Center ( NHC ) expected it to. The forecast track switched to approaching Florida and then curving in the basin to track near the entire east coast specifically making landfall near the NC beaches. The direct track of the eye wall was noted hitting Carteret County NC. All models are in consensus, but the storm is still 3 days before making landfall so there will be some deviation in official track. Another interesting take about the development of this storm is that it became a hurricane much faster than was originally thought by the NHC, and intensity early on was maintained at Category 1 as it neared NC. This is concerning because this storm is already a Cat 1 and continues to develop very fast and still has a lot of warm water ahead of it with very favorable conditions for development. The official track is eerily like Dorian but moving much faster than Florence or Dorian. If the NHC official forecast track proves true on July 31, this will be a very short duration event.

The worst case scenario for Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, Morehead City, Beaufort, and Harkers Island: It is important to remember that the upper right quadrant of any tropical system produces the greatest impacts for wind, storm surge, and rain. For the upper right quadrant to affect all communities in Carteret County, Isaias would have to make direct impact near Swansboro, then track near Havelock and then just west of the county before entering back in to the Pamlico Sound. This track would put the core eye wall over the entire county. However, any landfall along Bogue Banks or down east will be a significant event. And again, it is important to remember that dangerous weather can and does happen away from the core eye wall landfall.

July 29: Became Tropical Storm Isaias near the Windward Islands with a forecast track near Florida and then in to the Gulf of Mexico. The NHC began official updates


August 1 5:00 pm: Isaias is downgraded to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph but the NHC expects it to regain hurricane strength as it nears the FL east coast overnight. However, considerably shear could hamper that. The forecast stays with a tropical storm hitting the SC and NC border, traversing the Pamlico Sound, then back in to the Atlantic affecting places as far north as Connecticut and Massachusetts.

August 1 14:00 pm: Considerable shear near the FL straits and Atlantic Basin are severely inhibiting the storm and at this hour Isaias has the possibility of dropping below hurricane strength much earlier than anticipated. Note the use of the word possibly.

August 1 06:00 am: 06Z GFS and Euro both showing a slight movement east just off the FL coast allowing for the landfall further up the NC coast near Hampstead and Holly Ridge. However, the intensity still remains lower at the NHC, along with the GFS and Euro.

August 1 12:00 am: Remember in the low pressure versus high pressure as a steering dynamic, a low pressure system will draw in or cause another low pressure system to follow it’s movement. A high pressure system will repel or block a low pressure system. On August 1, there is a low pressure system over western Tennessee that is pulling Isaias towards it allowing for the closer approach to FL. Then as that system over TN pulls North, it allows Isaias to turn NE. If the TN low pressure weakens or moves faster, then it will allow for the FL near miss scenario.

As of July 31, 2020

4:00 PM: 12Z GFS and EURO models are hinting at a more western approach to FL (not currently a forecast but watch for the track to shift west more) making direct contact with that state, then parallel the East Coast more closely which would be good for NC beaches and cities like Wilmington, Morehead City, Cape Lookout, Ocracoke Island, and Cape Hatteras. Again, this is a computer model and not a forecast, but watch for that trend over the next 6 hours.

Compared to Dorian: Very similar track with generally the same intensity although moving faster. However, this is given the scenario of the eye wall staying east of Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, and Beaufort like Dorian did. If the eye wall does make landfall near Onslow and Pender County, then the entire right upper quadrant will be over our county and there will be a VERY significant difference in this storm in regards to wind and storm surge. Dorian was a weakening Category 1, this storm has the potential to be a weakening Category 2 even though the NHC does not have that in the forecast 3 days out.

Compared to Florence: Hurricane Florence approached Carteret County NC from east to west and Isaias will approach south to north. Florence was painfully slow in it’s movement while this storm is forecast to be moving quite fast. There will be Florence like intensity (although at a much shorter duration) if the eye wall makes landfall over Onslow and Pender counties, or even near Emerald Isle.

The information comparing Dorian and Florence to Isaias is based on the exact track of the eye. However, it is critical for a reader to consider that waterspouts, heavy rain, and flooding do occur well outside of landfall.

July 31 and COVID-19 Coronavirus: Isaias will present considerable complexities when thinking about opening shelters for the public and having those in shelters so close together. As soon as we see information from local emergency management as it relates to shelters and the COVID-19 Coronavirus, then we will add the information here.

Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

5 thoughts on “Hurricane Isaias And Carteret County NC Near Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, And Down East – Historical Record

  • August 4, 2020 at 5:44 am

    Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative is estimating about 10,000 customers are without power as of 5 am on August 4, 2020 and we have no word as of yet on how many people are without electricity from Duke Energy after Hurricane Isaias rolled through Eastern NC. Also, as of 5 am, there are no reports of waterspouts or tornadoes related to the storm, or major areas of flooding.

  • July 31, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    People are seeing the shift west to near Oak Island NC and Wilmington in New Hanover County for landfall in the latest advisory and assuming the chances of our county being spared is not good thinking. This will still put us on the right side albeit still away from the direct landfall. This will still mean considerable winds, storm surge, power outages, waterspouts, and fallen trees,

    And it’s very likely this 3 day forecast changes again. The bottom line is ALL of Eastern NC beaches and the Outer Banks needs to prepare. Even as far south as Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach need to be on watch for this one.

  • July 31, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Do you think Carteret County Emergency Management will have to open ALL schools in the local area to maintain social distancing from Coronavirus? I sure hope so. This is a very scary prospect.

  • July 31, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Ocracoke Island is now under and emergency evacuation order.

  • July 31, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Looking like all the NC beaches from Brunswick County, New Hanover, Pender, Onslow, Carteret, Hyde, and Dare counties will get the dangerous side of this storm. Let’s hope it stays a Cat 1.

    But also, once done with NC this system has the possibility to create havoc for the NE including DC, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Boston.


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