One and done. One-hit wonder. In like a lion and out like a lamb. A million clichés could describe Hurricane Arthur’s fast approach and even faster exit from the Eastern Seaboard over the 4th of July holiday weekend. But we’ll let the photos and captions tell that story while Avon-based ESM Assignment Writer Brandt Hart gives us the meat and potatoes of Arthur’s Category 2 landfall on Carteret. Hyde, and Dare Counties…
By Brandt Hart
Just as America was closing her eyes and inhaling to make a wish, Hurricane Arthur blew out the candles and spoiled the birthday party. 238 sticks of wax were extinguished by winds that peaked just above 100 mph and sent tourists scattering inland from the Outer Banks at the pinnacle of summer. What can you say about the timing of this storm that hasn’t been crammed into our eardrums all weekend?
Yet there were no major injuries. No deaths. Beneath that septic odor boiling up from the stagnant water, there’s a bittersweet fragrance. Everything besides the date on the calendar was ideal about Arthur’s arrival. For the hardest-hit areas, the peak storm surge occurred at low tide — and without a full moon to enhance them. Arthur truly bore his teeth in the earliest morning hours of July 4th, coming ashore as a Category 2 — meaning the majority of people in the storm’s path were asleep during the most violent conditions. Unless, of course, the narrow island of the geographical oddity you call home had you riddled with insomnia.
The word I keep hearing is “lucky.” That, and how much this storm looked like Emily. Another lesson: the easiest way to sound like an Outer Banks local is to just compare an incoming hurricane with any other previous hurricane in the last three decades. You don’t need any actual data to back up your claims — honestly, you could probably get away with saying, “This storm looks a lot like Fernandez” and people would adamantly agree with you... (Read more after the slideshow)
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But yes, from the aerial perspective, we were lucky. Some standing water, downed trees, and toppled garbage cans. Our tropical visitors always seem to focus their fury on the Rodanthe area, and I know they woke up much sorer than I did — St. Clair Family Camp Grounds and Cape Hatteras KOA, both of which were remodeled after Hurricane Sandy, suffered extensive damage. Highway 12 buckled, but lately, that happens on any day with a breeze.
Walking to the beach the morning after Arthur was routine, with the exception of the Dairy Queen owner pulling broken glass from a window and the now-upside down toad of the Froggy Dog Restaurant. Everyone had lost a few shingles, but nobody was complaining — just getting to work and preparing to make up for lost time.
The tail end of Arthur left the Outer Banks with a condolence package of substantial swell and offshore winds. The sight of actual wave faces amidst the lake-like conditions of an East Coast summer may explain some of the exaggerations as to the precise size of the swell. But again, nobody was complaining. My first interaction of the morning summed it up adequately:
“So, was it worth staying?” I asked the red-eyed kid retreating from the surf. His facial expression and absence of strength to walk properly would have sufficed for an answer.
Turns out, Arthur was more of a pickpocket than anything else — robbing a coast dependent on tourists from perhaps its most bountiful weekend. Three days without visitors may seem trivial, even a welcome breather to some, but it still stings. One owner of a local bed and breakfast estimated that the storm would incur close to a $20,000 dollar hit: “But that’s nothing compared to Sandy or Irene.”
If anybody deserves some recognition after this storm, it’s the North Carolina Department of Transportation. I wish the thanks that the NCDOT received amounted to more than chalk signs at grocery stores — they certainly have earned more than that for dealing with the hellish combination of Bonner Bridge and NC12. This crew has pried the overland lifeline to Hatteras Island from the jaws of the ocean more times than anyone realizes. Merely two days after the landfall of a Category 2 hurricane and tourists were once again funneling through the Tri-Villages. And I know the locals won’t mind the out-of-towners pointing at the damage to their businesses because the tourists are paying for the repairs.
We are still left with the sobering fact that it’s only July. The oceans are still warming, and new presents will surely be shipped our way off the coast of Africa. Lucky is right — lucky for now. But if we need a reminder of what these storms can really do, just look south of Japan right now and be thankful the East Coast got Hurricane Arthur and all its quick-hit swell pulses and not the Category 5 Super Typhoon Neoguri.