High wind and water on NC’s Outer Banks, but not like one photo suggests

Coastal North Carolina faced high winds and waters Friday, but not to the degree some social media posts made it seem.

Storm- to gale-force winds and 20-foot seas were caused by a cold front moving in from the west and what has been deemed a nor’easter off the Atlantic coast, according to the National Weather Service.

Storm and high wind warnings were issued for all of the Outer Banks, and nearly all of the North Carolina coast.

Outer Banks photographer Alex Lex – who is known locally for posting photo illustrations that include real scenes from the Outer Banks with other, unrealistic elements added – took advantage of the opportunity the storm brought with it.

A photo posted to Facebook on Friday morning showed “40ft. waves hitting Outer Banks beach” at Kitty Hawk Pier. A live webcam of the pier showed otherwise.

In a few hours, the post had been shared more than 12,000 times.

Locals documented plenty of real effects of the storm on social media, too, showing flooding on the sound side of the barrier islands.

Sam Walker with The Outer Banks Voice posted photos showing water spilling over the Nags Head-Manteo Causeway Bridge, and flooding in Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Avon.

Another local photographer, Rick Anderson, also posted more believable footage of the waves at Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills.

The coastal storm warning is in effect until 4 a.m. Saturday, and the high wind warning until 6 p.m. Saturday.

The storm warning means winds of 55-72 mph are expected. The weather service’s Morehead City office reported sustained 34-46 mph northwest winds and gusts up to 63 mph early Friday morning.

“Winds will diminish Monday but elevated seas will persist into midweek,” the report said.

A high wind warning of gusts up to 60 mph also was issued for the northern Piedmont, including the Triangle, through 10 p.m. Friday, and north and west into the mountains.