In a press release from Monday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for central and eastern North Carolina.
“While we do not yet know how Hurricane Matthew will impact North Carolina, we do know that we can expect some form of impacts on our state,” McCrory said. “Already, we’ve seen substantial flooding in eastern and central parts of the state from recent rain events, and many areas are already saturated.”
Rick Luettich, director of the UNC Institute of Marine Science, said he has been monitoring the movement of Hurricane Matthew through the Carribean and into the Atlantic in addition to its threat to the southeastern U.S.
He said the hurricane’s path curves west toward the coast and then east to follow the South Atlantic coastline from Florida to North Carolina, resulting in major impacts around the coast.
“We are looking at in excess of 10-12 feet of water above high tide along much of the shoreline from Charleston all the way up to Cape Hatteras,” Luettich said.
He said hurricanes are created when weather disturbances — sometimes called tropical waves — develop in a specific pattern and draw energy from the ocean’s surface, allowing the waves to rotate in a counterclockwise pattern around a low-pressure cell.
Luettich said he has been in coastal North Carolina for 30 years and has not seen a storm like Hurricane Matthew.
“If this follows the pathway and does what it’s, right now, predicted it could, it would certainly be the biggest event I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said. “We’re taking it quite seriously.”
It is important people prepare in advance for the possibility of an evacuation, Luettich said.
According to a press release from Duke Energy on Tuesday, the company is monitoring the hurricane and is planning and preparing for its potential impacts.
The latest hurricane models show a shift in the storm’s path to the west, which places the storm on a direct path toward the N.C. coast late Friday into early Saturday, Nick Keener, lead meteorologist at Duke Energy, said in the press release.
“It’s still too early to determine the exact path of the storm,” he said. “But based on today’s information, we are asking our power restoration employees to prepare to travel later this week.”
Bobby Simpson, Duke Energy’s storm director for the Carolinas, said in the press release staffing plans are underway.
“Crews across the Carolinas, Midwest and Florida are preparing and are ready to move to wherever the storm may affect our customers,” he said.
Luettich said people near the storm path should remove objects from their yard, especially anything that could potentially be turned into a projectile or debris.
“I suspect, unless something changes dramatically, there will be a fairly substantial evacuation of at least the low-lying parts of Eastern North Carolina.”