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September 18, 2003

D minus 23

According to the National Hurricane Center, the eye of Isabel made landfall at Drum Inlet, between Portsmouth and Ocracoke islands. Aside from the safety of friends and family, where Isabel made landfall was my biggest worry of the past week, ever since I saw the first track predicting a landfall on the N.C. coast.

Drum Inlet is where we spend most of our time on the yearly fishing trip. You can see it in the background of the fish pics, here. It's big for an N.C. inlet, and less than three miles from the Village of Ocracoke. If the village gets trashed hard enough, or destroyed, God forbid, well the October trip is "Goodbye Charlie!"

But it appears Ocracoke has survived the winds of the eyewall, and I know for a fact that the one place we spend the most time at other than the inlet survived.

Howard's Pub is still there. And, true to its motto, "Open 365 Days A Year" it stayed open the whole time.

Pub owner Buffy Warner, 52, was one of the islanders who didn't heed an evacuation order for the 900 residents and missed the last ferry out. There is no road access.

"The wind and rain got pretty intense between daybreak and noon," he said by telephone from the pub, describing Isabel's passage en route to slap the U.S. mid-Atlantic with torrential rains and powerful 100 mph (160 kph) winds.

"The rain was coming down sideways and we have a couple of feet of water on the highway from sound flooding. There were times the building shook and visibility was zero but there was never a single moment that I wished I had left."

"The intensity comes the day before. Like yesterday when that last ferry left, everybody was wondering a bit. But today, people who have never stayed in a hurricane are saying, 'hey this is what a hurricane is like'," Warner said.

PUB IN THE EYE OF THE STORM

In the early afternoon, while Warner was on the phone, the corner of the eye of Isabel came right over the restaurant.

"The winds stopped and the air started getting hot. It was almost instantaneously," he said.

"It went from dark gray, rain and cyclone winds to a bright white. The sky isn't Carolina blue. It's just bright overcast," said Warner, who has lived on Ocracoke since 1990

Update: My Bad. Those pics are actually of Ocracoke Inlet, not Drum Inlet. The NHC discussion of the storm, which I can't find anymore, said "came ashore at Drum inlet, between Cape Lookout and Ocracoke." Here's a cached version, for what it's worth. I should have been clued in by the fact that the NHC left out an entire island, but for some reason it didn't register. Drum Inlet is actually the next inlet to the south, between Cape Lookout and Portsmouth Island. We've fished it before as well, caught lots of weed and little sharks.

Of course, the eye was big enough so that it also passed over Ocracoke inlet, it just didn't make landfall there.

Posted by Bigwig at September 18, 2003 10:49 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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