09/13/05 NOW: OPHELIA

Down in Charleston, SC now, as radar indicating outer band from Ophelia approaching the coastline. Yesterday evening, spent some time down on the Isle of Palms (barrier island beach) observing beautiful storm clouds over the ocean at sunset, complete with rainbow. We don't expect much of a surge here, perhaps only 1 to 2 feet over astronomical tide. Only a couple of schools in the area closed for today, with one voluntary shelter site opened. Wind gusts are expected to be up to 45 mph, perhaps a bit higher right along the coast. With next outer band now approaching, I will be heading down to the beach shortly to capture some video.
Experienced gusty winds overnight here in Charleston, with power out for about six hours. Teenage surfer reported missing off Folly Beach. This morning with sunrise, I will be tracking the storm up the coast via U.S. 17 - my route taking me through Myrtle Beach, and then up to Wilmington, where we expect a "near landfall" experience this afternoon.
I am in Morehead City, North Carolina. The outer bands are beginning to affect me now. Each band brings heavy rain and wind gusts of about 40 mph. I am sure that as each band comes in, the winds will get stronger and stronger. We still have power but that may change later on today. Good luck Mike.
Central pressure down to 980mb and winds up to 75kts. Ophelia is moving at a snail's pace and the western eyewall looks very intense on radar right now. As we all know, with slow forward motion comes the threat of flooding, and a quick check to weather stations in the area show that REDICULOUS rainfall has/is occurred over southern NC. An example is from Oak Island, NC (~25 miles s of Wilmington) -- Fort Caswell, North Carolina Baptist Assembly has reported a daily rainfall total of 31.3" this is accurate (obviously unlikely), then there are going to be MAJOR problems over the next few days for low-lying areas because O isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

EDIT: Here's the link to the observations out of Oak Island.

EDIT2: Here's a radar loop from Weather Underground that shows, quite well, how much Ophelia has increased in organization over the past day or so. Pretty impressive looking attm. http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/at20...xtfeature=track
Well, traversed through some very heady squall lines along the coastal highway. Rain nearly horizontal for ~ 80 miles of the drive, and was just holding tight with both hands on the steering wheel for what seemed like forever. Very frothy, whipping sea as it came into my view from time to time. Would have liked to stay in Wilmington longer, but had to make it back to Richmond to see my son's football game this evening. One thing I noticed that was very impressive: Following the storm from south-to-north were convoy after convoy of electric company trucks and even several emergency vehicles; obviously dispatched in advance to address problems from the storm.

Even though this is only a Cat One, the Outer Banks may be very vulnerable this evening as it appears the storm will crash through the Pamlico Sound, and its path is very much parrallel to the coastline. As anyone who has spent time on the Outer Banks knows, this is an extremely exposed, thin and long stretch of land. In many areas, both the sound and the sea are visible from highway at the same time for as far as the eye can see.

Now that I'm back in Richmond, will have to turn over further observations to Charles -- looks like Morehead City getting the brunt right now!
I have been in the eye wall since about 6:45 eastern time. There have been very strong winds for most of this time (est. 50-90). It is 12:25 right now and the winds have let up quite a bit. I am extremely surprised that the power is still on. There have been many transformer flashes and the power has gone out but it has always come back on. Our wind gusts were about 90 mph (Cape Lookout had 92 mph and I saw on the Weather Channel that Morehead City had 90 mph). Our motel has actually sustained some damage. I was standing just outside my room when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something large falling away from me. The entire brick wall side of our motel (~25X25ft) blew/fell over. We have also lost many shingles and part of the roof. There is also tree damage around our location. We must be in another rain band right now (time: 12:30am) because the winds are stronger (maybe gusting to 50-60mph) and there is very heavy rain.

EDIT: Wow there was just a very strong gust at 12:36am. It was probably around 70mph. Now as I am typing there is another very strong gust. I don't have an updated radar but this is an intense band. I hope the power stays on. :D
On the last few radar scans ending at 1:08AM EDT, Ophelia's eye has begun to take on a square shape similar to the typhoon satellite photo posted a few weeks ago. The western half of the storm is quicky eroding.

I had the car loaded up tonight in preparation for an overnight drive to the OBX, but it is looking like any chase prospects will be minimal north of Hatteras - aside from some wave action.