OUTER BANKS, N.C. (WVEC) -- North Carolina's Outer Banks are bracing for the effects of Tropical Storm Maria, even though the storm is expected to pass the state at least 150 miles offshore.
Schools were closed Tuesday and Wednesday in all of Dare County because of expected tropical storm conditions. Dare County includes much of the Outer Banks, as well as some inland areas along Pamlico Sound.
As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, Maria has sustained winds of 70 mph and is about 145 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
The National Weather Service in Morehead City, North Carolina, said significant beach erosion is expected north of Cape Lookout.
A storm surge warning was issued for Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras Village. Water level rise of up to 4 feet above ground is expected.
Maria is also ruining vacations for people visiting the Outer Banks this week. Many had to cancel plans for the next few days while others were forced evacuate their beach rentals and hotels completely.
From flying kites, to fishing, to a leisurely walk with the dog, it was the calm before the storm at Corolla Monday evening.
“We’re just going to batten down the hatches and hope for the best,” said tourist James Agnew.
Agnew admits he may have picked the wrong week to vacation in the Outer Banks as Hurricane Maria scrapes past the eastern shore.
“We had plans to go out to dinner tonight, but we decided to stay in,” said Agnew. “If things get worse I guess we’ll go into plan B which is get out of town.”
Plan B has already been put into effect in Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, where close to 1,000 visitors were forced to evacuate.
“They said, ‘Yeah, you have to get out of the house immediately and pack everything up and leave,’” said Jessica Gruver.
Gruver had to ditch the beach house for a motel, she’s just trying to keep her kids calm with pizza. It’s not the trip they were hoping for.
“I started to cry, because we live in Pennsylvania and that’s eight hours away and I have a 4 and 6-year-old that I didn’t want to pack in the car and drive all day. They were really excited about being at the beach,” said Gruver.
Businesses like Lucky’s Pizza and OBX Bait and Tackle are about a quarter of a mile from the beach. They say most of the time these hurricanes turn out to be no big deal but you have to treat each one seriously.
“Just be prepared we have a backup generator and food so we are good to go,” said the manager of OBX. “when the power goes out, we have a lot of bait, like to keep it cold.”
While tourists say instead of shopping for fun souvenirs, they are now bringing back emergency supplies.
“We got some pop and some candles and flash lights in case we lose power,” said tourist Beverly Myers.
On Tuesday morning, the deteriorating weather conditions suspended ferry evacuations from Ocracoke. Officials also warned dangerous rip currents were possible in the ocean for the rest of the week.
Due to weather conditions the evac from Ocracoke is suspended. One boat will be on standy at S.dock in case of emergency weather permitting— NCDOT Ferry Division (@NCDOT_Ferry) September 26, 2017
On Tuesday, a storm surge warning was issued for parts of Dare County:
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