Nags Head, North Carolina – As the Outer Banks endure beach erosion, rip currents and overflows, which shut down a segment of NC Highway 12 on Tuesday, another beachfront home has collapsed.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore said an unoccupied house had collapsed at 24235 Ocean Drive in Rodanthe, prompting authorities to close that segment of the beach to protect people from large debris.
Earlier Tuesday morning, the state Department of Transportation announced that NC 12 was closed between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe after high tide covered the main Outer Banks thoroughfare with sand and water.
A nearby house collapsed earlier this year, in February. Volunteers and crews worked for weeks to clean up debris that floated or blew seven miles down the beach, but remnants of the house are still being found months later.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has warned that more homes could collapse this week due to low coastal impacts on North Carolina beaches.
“It’s a combination of climate change (rising seas) and the strong coastal depression,” said WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth. “The coastal low brings in onshore winds and makes the high tides even higher.”
Dangerous conditions in the Outer Banks and along North Carolina beaches are tied to a low pressure system off the coast.
Coastal erosion and wave heights up to 15 feet are possible and a rip current hazard is in place until at least midweek. By Thursday, the system will bring rain to central and eastern North Carolina as it moves onshore.
“With low pressure remaining off the coast until the middle of the week, strong winds will continue on the coast,” said WRAL meteorologist Peta Sheerwood. “This will cause northeasterly swells on some beaches. Beach erosion is likely for parts of the Outer Banks during high tide periods, and strong rip currents are also possible.”
The National Weather Service has a coastal flood advisory in effect until 4 p.m. Wednesday, when 1 to 3 feet of flooding above ground level is expected in low-lying areas near shorelines and tidal waterways .
Climate change is contributing to more tropical storms and hurricanes, and experts say North Carolina’s coastline could begin to shrink. A new report predicts that sea levels in the United States will rise as much over the next 30 years as they have over the past 100 years.
As the climate continues to warm, environmental experts say the threat to homes in Rodanthe will only increase.
“Sea level rise will likely continue to exacerbate these problems and make it even more difficult to manage these coastal areas,” said David Hallac, superintendent of the North Carolina Eastern Branch of the National Parks Service.