Hurricane Irma Visits The Carolina Shore

Hurricane Irma was originally predicted to make a sharp turn to the Northeast after skirting Cuba and them head straight up the East coast with the Carolinas in her sight. Given that we were more than a week out, we knew that there was potential for track shifts. Nevertheless, it was still time to prepare. It was both surprising and comforting to see so many folks preparing well in advance. As is always the case, water and bread were flying off the shelves and FB posts looking for generators were popping up everywhere and everyday.

Once Irma got close to Cuba, her track started to change in a more westerly direction with Miami in her crosshairs and still moving up the east coast. A further westward shift in her track brought her to the opposite side of Florida with the Keys set to be Irma’s intial US landfall. What became bad news for the gulf coast of Florida became good news for the east coast of the US and specifically the Carolina shore. That didn’t mean that we’d be spared from her effects given that she was well over 300 miles wide! Radar showed the coasts of South & North Carolina as set to receive the far outer, northern bands of Irma. With that there was the prediction for strong onshore winds, increased rip tides, heavy surf and fairly significant rain. We got just about all of that, more or less of it depending on precisely where you were along the coast.

The day before Irma was scheduled to ‘land’ in our backyard and the day she actually did were amazing displays of contrast.  While Sunday the 10th of September began with a stunning mid tide sunrise and reasonably gentle surf, high tide a few hours later brought overcast skies and a marked increase in surf activity. 

I spent the early morning on Sunset Beach where clouds looked like sunrise would be dampened by clouds, the skies opened just enough to produce a stunning array of colors in the morning’s sunrise. You’ll see the gallery of those photos first just below. Later that morning I made my way out to the east end of Ocean Isle for high tide. Historically the heaviest and roughest surf can be seen there during any type of storm. It didn’t disappoint again this day. The tide was quite high, reaching the dunes and sand bags but not breaching anywhere except the usual spot underneath the last couple homes at the point. The surf itself was not extraordinarily high…perhaps 3′ to 4′ wave height and with winds coming in offshore, there was a beautiful display of backspray as the waves peaked and broke. The 2nd gallery below contains those photos.

The following day; the day that Irma was scheduled to ‘hit’ provided a stunning display of Mother Nature’s fury in the ocean! I made it down again that early afternoon just as high tide was coordinating with some impressive Northwest winds blowing back at the pounding surf. The 3rd gallery below will give you a very good idea of the strength of Irma even as she had been downgraded to a tropical storm and hitting us with her most northeasterly outer bands. Clearly we got very lucky dodging Irma’s volley of bullets! Hope you enjoy the photos.

Clicking on any of the photos will launch them full size in the lightbox. If you’d like to show friends and family away from the shore the impacts of Irma, you can send any of the photos as Free E-Cards by clicking the link in the upper right hand corner.

Sunset Beach sunrise on Sunday, 9.10, the day before Irma’s arrival in the Carolinas



The east end of Ocean Isle Beach at high tide the day before Irma’s arrival




The east end of Ocean Isle Beach at high tide on 9.11.2017, the day that Irma arrived in the Carolinas.




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