A Guide to OBX Hurricane Season
Hurricanes are an inevitable, part of living and staying on the Outer Banks. Hurricanes are large, rotating storms with high-speed winds that form over warm waters, usually in tropical areas. Hurricanes have sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour and an area of low pressure in the center of the storm called the eye.
These storms are often capable of causing extreme damage to the areas that they go over and the Outer Banks is no stranger to the damaging effects of hurricanes. During the 1990s, Hurricane Fran, Hurricane Floyd, and Hurricane Bonnie hit the state of North Carolina resulting in mass evacuations, extreme damage, and multiple fatalities. In the 200s, Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Isabel, Hurricane Florence, and Hurricane Dorian directly impacted the Outer Banks causing large storm surges and extreme flooding, in addition to dangerous winds and property damage. None of these hurricanes were above Category 3 (more on that below), so it is important to remember that even a Category 1 storm or a Tropical Storm can still cause severe damage and it is important to be prepared.
Still, it's important not to let the threat of a hurricane stop you from enjoying the awesome experience of an Outer Banks vacation; you just have to be prepared and have a plan! We’ve got you covered with our guide to OBX hurricane season.
Below is an OBX Hurricane Checklist with information about how to be prepared in the event of a hurricane heading towards the Outer Banks as well as Evacuation Tips and a FAQ section to help you be prepared and keep you and your family safe in the event of a storm.
When is Hurricane Season on the Outer Banks?
Hurricane season in the OBX typically lasts from June 1st to November 30th. However, tropical cyclone activity sometimes occurs before and after these dates, respectively.
The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is September 10, with most activity occurring between mid-August and mid-October.This is the time of the year when the Atlantic Ocean is most conducive to the formation and development of hurricanes and tropical storms. It's important to stay informed about weather conditions and follow any warnings or guidance from local authorities. Consult the National Hurricane Center for more information.
If you are forced to evacuate the Outer Banks, consult our checklist below.
OBX Hurricane Checklist
When hurricanes threaten the Outer Banks, it is imperative that you adhere to the instructions of Seaside Vacations and local authorities. If/when time permits, each vacation rental guest will be notified as to what they should do.
In the event of an Outer Banks hurricane, Seaside Vacations advises all guests of the following:
- When a hurricane watch is issued, you should begin preparations for possible evacuation. Seaside Vacations will monitor the storm along with local authorities and the National Hurricane Center. When the probability of a hit to the Outer Banks becomes likely, Dare County will issue a MANDATORY EVACUATION. Evacuation is required whenever a mandatory evacuation is issued by Dare County officials. You should pack all belongings, including food, and evacuate immediately. Neither Seaside Vacations nor the vacation rental homeowner will be responsible for any items you may leave behind.
- Plan your evacuation route. The NC Department of Transportation's evacuation maps is a great resource. View our evacuation tips below for more information on evacuating.
- Upon leaving the Outer Banks, you may either stay inland at a hotel/motel or return home. Keep in mind that the first people to evacuate will get the closest hotel/motel rooms and avoid traffic congestion. The longer you wait, the further you'll have to travel to find accommodations. After the storm passes, you may call our office or local authorities to see if you can return. If so, we are glad to have you come back and enjoy the rest of your vacation. View our evacuation tips below for more information about returning to the Outer Banks after a hurricane has passed.
- There will be NO REFUNDS OR CREDITS FOR HURRICANE EVACUATIONS. Whether you own property, run a business, or rent a vacation home on the Outer Banks, the threat of a hurricane is always present during certain months of the year, and we all assume this risk. Therefore, we suggest you consider Travel Insurance to secure your vacation investment and eliminate your financial risk. There will be no refunds of any kind for hurricane evacuations. According to the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act, in the event of a mandatory evacuation, “The tenant shall not be entitled to a refund if: i.e. prior to the Tenant taking possession of the property, the Tenant refused insurance offered by the landlord or real estate broker that would have compensated him or her for losses or damages resulting in loss of use of the property due to a mandatory evacuation order; or i.e. the Tenant purchased insurance offered by the landlord or real estate broker.” This means that no refunds will be given either by Seaside Vacations or the homeowner if you either buy or refuse to buy insurance. Please consider Travel Insurance, which will reimburse you for lost vacation time, to avoid this risk. Under NC law, Seaside Vacations will not issue refunds in the event there is an evacuation due to a tropical system/hurricane. Please consider purchasing Travel Insurance.
For the most up-to-date storm happenings, we suggest you follow our status updates on our Facebook Page.
Outer Banks Hurricane Evacuation Tips
Voluntary vs. Mandatory Evacuations
- When a Voluntary Evacuation is issued, the decision of whether or not to leave is entirely up to you.It is highly suggested by government officials that residents and visitors leave the area for their own safety, but there are no consequences should you decide to stay.
- When a Mandatory Evacuation is issued, this means that you should your home and move somewhere safe as soon as possible due to imminent danger from the coming storm. While residents are not likely to be arrested for staying, residents are expected to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours after the storm and there will not be utility or emergency services available while the mandatory evacuation remains in place.
Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan
In preparation for Outer Banks hurricane season, identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places -- a friend's home in another town, a hotel in a nearby town, or a shelter. If you are vacationing on the Outer Banks and need to evacuate, remember there will be many other people evacuating as well. Early planning could make a big difference!
The Outer Banks has two evacuation routes - Hwy 158 and Hwy 64 West. Routes are well marked with blue hurricane evacuation route signs. Expect to encounter traffic congestion and several hours of waiting before exiting the area. The sooner you leave, the less congestion you will cause and encounter.
If you're staying in Corolla, Duck, or Southern Shores:
- Head SOUTH on NC Highway 12 until you reach US Highway 158, and then:
- NORTH on US Highway 158
- SOUTH on US Highway 158 and then WEST on US Highway 64
If you're staying in Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, or Kitty Hawk:
- Head NORTH on US Highway 158 or
- Head SOUTH on US Highway 158 and then WEST on US Highway 64
Keep the telephone numbers of your destinations and a road map and/or phone GPS handy -- you may need to take alternative or unfamiliar routes if major roads are closed or clogged.
When evacuating, do not forget these items:
- Prescription medications and medical supplies
- Bedding and clothing, including sleeping bags and pillows if available
- Bottled water, battery-operated radio & extra batteries, first aid kit, flashlight
- Car keys and maps
- Any documents you may need, such as your driver's license, credit cards, etc.
Listen to NOAA weather radio, local radio, the Weather Channel, or national news if possible. Pay attention to local officials and if advised to evacuate, do so immediately. The roads will be getting busy and the earlier you leave, the less congestion you will deal with.
Returning to the OBX After a Hurricane Has Passed
After the storm has passed, do not return to the area until re-entry has been advised by local officials and Seaside Vacations. Time is needed to assess storm damage and begin clean-up. Conditions in the area could include no electricity, inadequate gasoline, and food supplies, contaminated water, impassable roadways, and damaged houses.
For any storm-related questions, you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to answer all emails received. However, please keep in mind that our ability to answer emails will be weather-dependent.
For the most up-to-date storm happenings, we suggest you follow our status updates on our Facebook page.
Re-Entry Stages for Returning to the Outer Banks
Stage 1: Critical need personnel identified by special permit issued by the Municipal Mayors and the Chairman of the Dare County Control Group.
Stage 2: Permanent residents and essential personnel for critical businesses with a Dare County driver's license, or a current Dare County tax receipt.
Stage 3: Non-resident property owners and non-resident employees of non-critical businesses identified by a solid color permit or a current Dare County tax receipt.
Stage 4: General public and visitors. No re-entry pass is needed