Rain, winds from Tropical Storm Ophelia pushes in to North Carolina

Saturday, September 23, 2023
Conditions deteriorated throughout the day in Wrightsville Beach
Conditions deteriorated throughout the day in Wrightsville Beach. Tom George has an update.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Rain from Tropical Storm Ophelia is pushing north and west across North Carolina as the storm nears landfall.


Coastal areas are getting hit harder than inland locations.

At 11 p.m., Ophelia had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and was moving north-northwest at 12 mph.

On Friday afternoon, the surf at Wrightsville Beach rose to around 5 feet. The danger of Ophelia didn't scare surfers; many could be found hitting the water, hoping to ride a large wave.

"It's nothing compared to when we get a category 2 storm. Florence, that one obviously did a lot more damage around here than this tropical storm will do, but it's still fun to come out here and feel these wind gusts. They feel like a hurricane but not nearly as strong," Nick Coutros said.

Wrightsville beach sees increase in rain, wind, rough seas

Throughout the evening, conditions became progressively worse in Wrightsville Beach. The wind gusts picked up and waves became choppier.

With the conditions deteriorating, numerous stores closed up shop, including one right here on the waterfront that is normally open every day of the year.

"It's not getting any better. It's only going to get worse," said Jennifer Kane. "So we're shutting it down, go home, watch a movie, have some popcorn, call it a day."

The wind gusts were expected to continue as the storm-type conditions continued into the night.

The wind was whipping in Wilson on Friday night. Josh Chapin has an update.

In Fayetteville, people stepped up to prepare for the storm. Volunteers worked together to pack away 500 flags from the US Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum's Field of Honor Memorial. The flags honor military families and service members past and present.

"With high winds, the flags have a tendency to pull right off the rebar and we don't feel that that's a great way to honor the men and women who are sponsored on these flags," ASOP Museum Foundation Executive Director Renee Lane said.

Lane said the group plans to put the flags back out Monday.

Volunteers picked up U.S. flags so they would not get blown away or damaged by the storm.

The rain picked up late evening in downtown Wilson and the wind howled throughout the night.

Winds were whipping flags, blowing hats off people and made some motorists stop because of the gusts.

The City of Wilson sad no serious issues have been reported but they're keeping an eye on the wind.

In Durham, workers with Durham Rescue Mission spent time before the storm arrived reaching out to people who might need the shelter's services.

"Our objective is to get out and warn the homeless community. In a time like this when you have all this wind coming through, wet grounds, falling branches, falling trees, it can be dangerous for people who are out there without shelter," Rev. Rob Tart said. "When people get cold, it doesn't have to be freezing for you to be really bad off when you're wet to the bone, like no doubt some will be tonight."

Tart said the shelter will not turn away anyone Friday night.

Some people in Raleigh flocked to hardware stores to sure up any last-minute projects around their homes.

"It's always good to look at your windows and doors and put caulk around any of the cracks that you see. Because water is going to find its way in, especially if the wind is blowing. And again, the sand in sandbags if you have some low-lying doors, like basement doors or whatnot. You spend $5 or $10 now and you're going to save $5,000 to $10,000 later on," explained Jeff Hastings, owner of Burke Brothers Hardware in Raleigh.

State of Emergency

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency for the state ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Ophelia.

"It is important for North Carolinians to prepare for potential impacts from the coming storm," Cooper said. "The storm's path has been difficult to predict and we want to ensure that farmers, first responders and utility crews have the tools necessary to prepare for severe weather."

The State of Emergency declaration expedites preparations and helps provide a swift response to the storm.

"The storm's path has been difficult to predict and we want to ensure that farmers, first responders and utility crews have the tools necessary to prepare for severe weather," Cooper said.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order also sought to ease response and recovery efforts.

"We want to ensure that all communities, particularly those with the greatest anticipated impact, have the resources they need to respond and recover from the effects of this storm," Youngkin said.

The governor encouraged residents to prepare an emergency kit and follow the weather forecast closely.

Schools in coastal areas of North Carolina and Virginia announced plans to dismiss students early Friday and cancel after-school and weekend activities.

The North Carolina Ferry System announced it was suspending several routes and the State Emergency Response Team planned to move to an enhanced watch Friday to ease coordination of resources, the governor's office said.

Events altered by Ophelia

Some High School football games across the state have had to adjust because of the weather.

For example, the ABC11 Game of the Week between Clayton High School and Garner High School opted to start an hour earlier as did Apex at Cary.

Garner canceled the Night Market.

Fourth Friday, which was supposed to happen Friday night in Fayetteville, has been canceled.

Also in Fayetteville, the Parade of Nations will not happen Saturday because of the weather forecast.

In Morrisville, the planned International Festival decided to cancel Saturday, and Western Wake Farmers Market also decided to cancel.

In Wake Forest, the Tree Trail Trek that was supposed to happen Saturday at Joyner Park will not take place.

Late Friday night, organizers announced that Festa Italiana Raleigh scheduled for downtown will also be canceled.