Water, water everywhere – and we’re not just talking about the ocean and sound! That’s how it is on an island when heavy rains come along. It doesn’t have to be a tropical storm, hurricane or nor’easter to create flooding issues. Even a few days of persistent summer thunderstorms can create problems. It is a part of life on a sandbar, where you are situated a few inches above sea level if that. Generally water recedes in a day or two, and life is impacted little if at all. But during the rain, there are some tips on how to prevent any real problems from occurring and most of those tips revolve around, you guessed it – common sense (see last week’s Blog Post for more on that!)
Highway 12 on Hatteras Island from Pea Island South is notorious for flooding. Obey the posted speed limit but when conditions warrant, do drive more slowly. When roads flood, the two lanes really act as one lane in the middle and so it is the courteous, and sensible thing to do, to drive slowly and not create massive wakes and spray for oncoming drivers or nearby pedestrians. Don’t try to pass! The chances of hydroplaning and loss of control of your vehicle are greatly increased when you are going at an unsafe rate of speed for the conditions.
Know the difference between rain flooding and sound or ocean tide. Rain is almost all fresh water, although there can be some salt from the air mixed in. Sound and ocean over-wash are definitely salt water and can do serious damage to your vehicle. If you must travel into over-wash, drive very, very slowly, and be sure to wash your vehicle as soon as possible after your trip. If you are in a very small car (one that is very low to the ground) you may want to think about waiting a while before you venture through the deeper flooding if possible.
There are a number of social media sites that monitor conditions on Highway 12, including NCDOT12 on Facebook. It’s not a bad idea to check their posts if you think you might be driving into some flooding. You can also help them by posting any difficult or unusual situations you may encounter. It is pretty rare these days for the Highway to close completely.
The great thing is that sand is porous and it will absorb the water. For those of you from the northern parts of the country, it is not unlike driving in the ice and snow. Just take your time. We will be right here at journey’s end, and we want you here safely!