One of North Carolina’s coastal tourist hubs closed its causeway to traffic as Hurricane Ian neared, and police discovered it was not a minute too soon.
Within 20 minutes of closure, the vital two-lane road over the Intracoastal Waterway had vanished, according to the Sunset Beach Police Department. Sunset Beach is 155 miles south of Raleigh.
A video shared by police shows the road was not only underwater, but the current was also swift and choppy.
Waves from the storm reached as high as 21 feet off the Carolinas, according to the National Weather Service Data Buoy Center.
Sunset Beach was under a tornado warning in the hours prior to landfall, and police began posting warnings that motorists should avoid the causeway.
“Water is beginning to breach the causeway to the island and we are closing the bridge at this time,” police said.
“Please do not attempt to drive around the barricades. ... We are also aware that the canals have breached the bulkheads in several areas on the island making driving island roads extremely dangerous. Please stay in place until the storm passes.”
The storm’s impact was being felt up to 70 miles away, forecasters say.
Multiple watches and warnings have been issued for the North Carolina coast, including warnings for tornadoes, storm surge, flooding and high surf.
This #waterspout was captured by one of our co workers just after 2 PM on Bogue Sound, near the Bogue Watch community. We continue to watch the radar closely for tornado potential through evening. Have multiple ways to receive warnings and be ready to seek shelter quickly. #ian pic.twitter.com/TNCZrTmBGf
— NWS Newport/Morehead (@NWSMoreheadCity) September 30, 2022