Hurricane preparation is key to calmly dealing with a hurricane heading for the Outer Banks during your vacation. And it should be noted that "calm" will ensure vacation safety for everyone. I must admit that in the entire time we have vacationed on the Outer Banks, we have successfully avoided this situation. However, prime hurricane season is from June 1st through November 30th, so the great summer fun is in the prime hurricane season.
First some things you should know to help guide your hurricane preparation actions. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the “watch” within the next 36 hours. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected in the specified area of the “warning” within 24 hours.
Storms are divided into three broad categories: tropical depression, tropical storm, and hurricane. The lower the barometric pressure, the stronger the storm will be. Storms are categorized as follows:
So, now that you have an overview, what do you do? When a hurricane watch is issued, you should begin hurricane preparation for possible evacuation. Your rental company will be your first line of defense, and will keep you up to date on any impending mandatory evacuations that may be issued by the county. Each rental company has their own hurricane preparation guidelines, so follow these carefully. The Outer Banks encompasses three counties. The Emergency Management Office for each county, which is responsible for the coordination of hurricane preparation, is as follows:
In addition, here is a list of some local radio stations that will also supply hurricane preparation information:
If the county issues a Mandatory Evacuation, you are required to pack all of your belongings, including food, and depart the island immediately. Neither the rental company nor the house owner is responsible for any belongings left behind. Prior to departing, please complete the following ten things to help secure the Outer Banks rental home as part of your overall hurricane preparation process:
If you are north of Southern Shores, proceed south on Route 12, and upon arriving at Route 158, you will be directed where to exit the island. If you are staying from Nags Head to Kitty Hawk, you will be directed where to exit the island. If you are staying on Hatteras Island, proceed north on Route 12 until you arrive at Route 158, at which time you will be directed where to exit the island. Note that the sooner you evacuate, the closer you will likely find accommodations inland and miss the traffic snarl.
Please note that per the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act, no tenant will be due a refund in the event of mandatory evacuations is they had the opportunity and declined renters insurance. If you are concerned with a hurricane interrupting your vacation, please consider taking the renters insurance which all rental companies offer at the time of lease signing.
Re-entry to the Outer Banks is first given to critical need personnel identified by special permit, then residents of the island, then rental home owners, and then finally vacationers. Please consider this when deciding whether to go home or try and stay locally should a hurricane interrupt your OBX vacation. Note that during the hurricane evacuation process, your rental company will likely have current updates on its web pages to alert you when to leave and when it is safe to return.