Raleigh - Tropical Storm Hermine is on its way up the east coast, but left behind poor driving conditions in most of the Outer Banks. A preliminary check by Department of Transportation maintenance staff indicates almost all roads have some standing water, and a number of trees down on roadways throughout Dare County.
Combined with other debris and in some cases downed power lines, and area residents and visitors are urged to stay off the roads to allow transportation and power crews and fire departments to safely work on the cleanup.
On N.C. 12, between Southern Shores and Nags Head the highway appears to be in good shape, but there is standing water on the road surface. On Pea Island crews are clearing some areas where sand has covered the road, but there are many areas of standing water that drivers need to use extra caution to navigate. Between Buxton and Hatteras, there are also many areas of standing water, particularly at the northern end of Hatteras Village. Ocracoke Island has 4 to 6 inches of water on N.C. 12, and sand blown onto the highway is being cleared.
It doesn't appear to be any structural damage to the main roads in the county, but not all secondary roads have been checked yet.
Still to come is high tide at about 9:30 this morning, which is expected to bring some sound side flooding.
The department had been preparing for storm cleanup since early in the week, with extra equipment put in place on Ocracoke Island, Buxton, Kitty Hawk and Pea Island. In addition, area construction sites, including at the Bonner Bridge project had secured or moved equipment.
Elsewhere the northeastern corner of the state, there is some localized flooding in low lying areas and scattered trees down, especially in Camden and Currituck counties. A few road closures are reported in Chowan, Columbia and Tyrell counties because of standing water. Martin, Northampton, Hertford and Bertie counties have very little to no flooding with very few trees down. With strong winds expected to continue through the afternoon, drivers need to remain alert to possible additional trees coming down on roadways.
With water and in locations sand on the roadways, with power lines and other debris possible issues, again drivers are reminded to avoid unnecessary travel until later this morning. And if you must go out, use extra care and take precautions:
Do not drive through flooded areas. If you see a flooded roadway ahead, turn around and take an alternate route to your destination. If there is no alternate route, head to higher ground and wait for the water to subside. Do not attempt to cross over a flooded road even if it seems shallow. Just one foot of water can float many vehicles, while two feet of rushing water can carry away vehicles including SUVs and pick-ups.
After driving through water, tap your brake pedal to help dry your brake rotor.
Know what to do if your car begins to hydroplane. Hydroplaning occurs when your tires glide across the surface of the water on the road. If your car starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, but do not stomp on the brakes. Instead, apply the brakes in a steady, slightly firm manner, and steer in the direction of the skid. If you have a manual transmission push in the clutch and let the car slow down on its own. If you have an automatic transmission, hold the steering wheel steady and lightly apply the brakes. For cars that have antilock brakes, you should apply more pressure to the brakes, but avoid pumping them.
Allow more travel time, and reduce your speed and drive defensively. Motorists should drive at least five to 10 miles per hour slower on wet pavement and allow at least twice the normal following distance between cars to provide ample room for stopping. Be ready for a sudden stop. And remember that the driver behind you is dealing with the same conditions so signal for turns ahead of time and brake early as you near a stop. Be patient and do not pass lines of traffic.
Residents and visitors can to download the ReadyNC app for real-time weather and traffic information. Road condition updates are also available in the Travel section of NCDOT.gov or by following NCDOT on Twitter, where the storm can be followed at #HermineNC.