Ophelia weakens to tropical depression as it dumps inches of rain along upper East Coast


Ophelia, now a tropical depression, is impacting parts of the mid-Atlantic after its landfall early Saturday near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, slammed the coast with heavy rain, strong winds and flooding.

Here are the storm’s latest impacts:

  • Across North Carolina and Virginia, as many as 70,000 homes and businesses lost power, and as of Saturday night, around 14,000 remain in the dark, according to utility tracking site PowerOutage.us.
  • Storm surge flooding of more than 3 feet hit coastal North Carolina where water was seen covering roadways.
  • Five people were rescued from a boat anchored in rough waters near Cape Lookout, North Carolina.
  • States of emergency were declared in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland.
  • Two MLB games were postponed: Braves-Nationals in Washington, DC, and Diamondbacks-Yankees in New York.
  • The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood warning Saturday for Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The then-tropical storm roared ashore around 6:15 a.m. with 70 mph sustained winds, just shy of hurricane strength.

By 8 p.m., maximum sustained winds decreased to 35 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. It is expected to continue weakening.

All storm surge and tropical storm warnings were discontinued Saturday night as the storm lost strength.

Coastal flooding warnings and wind advisories remained in effect for some parts of the East Coast, according to the hurricane center.

Ophelia’s center is on track to move across southeastern Virginia through Saturday night before heading farther north across the Delmarva Peninsula by Sunday, the hurricane center said.

The storm’s shield of rain extended hundreds of miles from its center and dumped heavy rain across a large swath of the mid-Atlantic, including Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.

As Ophelia made its way up the East Coast Saturday evening, the National Weather Service issued a coastal flood warning for communities in New Jersey’s Atlantic City, where several roads were closed due to flooding.

“With high tide right around now along the Atlantic coast, we are getting numerous reports from coastal communities of street flooding and road closures,” the NWS office in Mount Holly posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Coastal areas in North Carolina bore the brunt of impacts as the expansive storm’s center barged into the state earlier Saturday.

Storm surge flooded coastal areas and inlets in North Carolina overnight and winds gusting to 73 mph hit Cape Lookout, along the state’s Outer Banks.

The high winds and rain caused treacherous conditions off the coast of Cape Lookout, prompting the rescue of five people, including three children, from Lookout Bight Friday, officials said.

The group had been aboard an anchored sailing vessel “that was beset by weather conditions” with 35 to 40 mph winds, according to a news release from the US Coast Guard.

“The conditions at the time were 6-foot to 8-foot seas, with occasional 10-foot swells,” the Coast Guard release said. “The owner of the vessel did not feel comfortable in the channel and requested to be rescued,” the Coast Guard said. No one was injured.

Residents of Washington, North Carolina, were warned to “avoid the downtown area” on Saturday as about 3 to 4 feet of storm surge from Ophelia sent waters over the city’s boardwalk area, a city Facebook post read.

About 40 miles south in New Bern, which sits along two rivers in North Carolina about 120 miles east of Raleigh, roads were flooded and water crept inland as the levels rose in the downtown area, city officials said on FacebookPhotos posted on the city’s page show a flooded children’s park and ducks floating down the street on floodwaters.

Emergency crews in New Bern barricaded flooded areas of the city, including Union Point Park, which “looks like a lake,” city officials said Saturday morning.

The flooding began on Friday, when roads were submerged in communities along North Carolina’s coast. In coastal Cedar Island, water collected on Highway 12, though it was open and passable, the state transportation department said.

“But please don’t go out tonight unless you absolutely have to. There is sand and water on the roadway, and it’s dark and stormy,” the department said in a social media post.

Water levels also rose overnight in the Chesapeake Bay, along the coasts of Virginia and Maryland.

“If you can avoid driving or being out during the storm please do so. We are expecting an extended period of strong winds, heavy rainfall, and elevated tides,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

Source: CNN