Huge waves pounded the beaches along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, tumbling cottages into the surf as if they were sand castles, and a winter storm dumped freezing rain, sleet and snow Thursday on parts of Virginia.
The waves that claimed six cottages or motel buildings along the northern Outer Banks also chewed up yards of precious beaches, leaving sheer sand cliffs at the ocean’s edge.
Kitty Hawk spokesman David Monroe watched as the ocean swallowed a cottage at 9 a.m., just minutes after high tide bashed oceanfront property for the third time since early Wednesday.
Cast About on Waves
“The structure was undermined severely by wave action. The pilings collapsed,” Monroe said. “The structure cast about on the waves like a houseboat. Then it battered five adjacent cottage fronts before it was broken apart by the wave action.
“It’s just piles of debris deposited in several places on the beach right now,” he said.
More than 68 other structures were threatened by anticipated bashings at high tides overnight and this morning.
At least 18 people were evacuated from the area, which supports a small off-season population.
“The rains are letting up, but it seems like the winds have increased,” said Wally Piland, a spokesman for the city of Nags Head. “We have constant winds of 20 to 30 m.p.h. with sudden strong bursts.
“But the seas have not calmed down a bit,” he said. “We have 8- to 10-foot waves constantly, but just a mile or two off the beach the seas are 18 feet.”
Officials worried about more beachfront flooding that could come overnight.
“We’re supposed to have an increased tide tonight by as much as one-half foot because of the lunar effects,” Piland said.
Tourists who have used the pristine beaches would not recognize the area now, Monroe said.
“It looks like someone has just taken a massive bulldozer and driven away with all of our sand,” he said. “We’ve lost about 10 lineal feet of frontal dune. We have a sheer face on them right now. They just drop right down to nothing. We’ve lost 6 to 8 feet of elevation of sand.”
On Feb. 26, two motels were damaged by erosion at Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. Kill Devil Hills police Maj. Mike Harris said sandbagging done at those facilities last weekend so far has protected the units from further damage.
The storm also pelted the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area and Duke Power Co. spokesman Mike Mullen said about 10,000 of the utility’s customers in Durham were without electricity Thursday morning.
Frozen Power Lines
Mullen said the power outage was caused by frozen power lines and frozen tree limbs knocking down power lines.
In Virginia, meanwhile, no significant snow accumulation was reported but many roads were icy.
A winter weather advisory was in effect for the southwest and northeast Piedmont and southern foothills of Virginia, along with the central and southern coastal plain and the sandhills of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina.
Elsewhere, a storm in the West brought rain showers to southwestern Oregon.