Path of Destruction: Timeline released on Carteret County tornado

Tornado victims begin cleanup

CARTERET COUNTY - The National Weather Service has released a preliminary timeline of the tornado that moved through Carteret County Tuesday night.

The EF2 tornado, with an estimated maximum wind speed of 125 mph, spun up just south of the Bogue Banks before coming ashore in western Atlantic Beach at about 10:18 p.m. Tuesday, according to the NWS.

The tornado then hit Ocean Sands Condominiums on West Fort Macon Road. Parts of the building's roof were ripped off or caved in, and 11 people were evacuated, said Atlantic Beach officials. Some of the victims suffered minor injuries and two were taken to Carteret General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

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The tornado also caused EF2 damage to the Island Beach & Racquet Club Condominiums, the NWS reported. The complex suffered heavy roof damage and four people were evacuated. At least one victim was treated for minor injuries, said town officials.

The tornado continued moving across the Bogue Banks, causing EF1 damage along Hoop Pole Road, snapping many hard and softwood trees, and causing minor damage to several homes, according to the NWS. The greatest damage came from falling trees.

The tornado then passed across the Bogue Sound and came ashore at Carteret Community College Morehead City, causing EF1 damage to several buildings on campus. According to the NWS, the tornado blew out windows and caused significant structural damage to one wall of the historical Camp Glenn building. In addition, the student center building was so badly damaged that it will be closed until January.

Trees at Carteret Community College were also uprooted and snapped. However, no serious injuries were reported at the campus.

The tornado later passed by Carteret General Hospital, causing only minor damage to the building, according to the NWS. But many trees and vehicles outside the facility suffered strong EF1 damage.

The tornado continued heading north-northeast through residential areas of Mandy Farms, Country Club East and Crab Point, causing extensive EF1 damage to trees and homes, the NWS reported. Most of the damage to homes involved the loss of roofing materials and sidings. However, many hard and softwood trees were snapped and uprooted, some of which fell on homes.

The NWS estimates the path length of the tornado to be about 5.25 miles. But it could be slightly longer since the tornado started as waterspout over the Atlantic
Ocean and continued into the Newport River before lifting.

The width of the tornado remained consistent at about 150 to 200 yards throughout its entire path, according to the NWS.

The Atlantic Beach Inspection Department has condemned a part of Ocean Sands Condominiums as unsafe. Two units at Island Beach & Racquet Club Condominiums have also been condemned.

In addition to Atlantic Beach, NWS teams were in Morehead City, Riverdale and Richlands Wednesday to survey the damage.

Also on Wednesday, power was restored to Ocracoke Island at 9:05 a.m., according to Tideland EMC. Power was lost to the island at 12:19 a.m. when two transmission poles were broken along Highway 12, just north of the Ocracoke pony pens. Officials believed a waterspout or tornado broke the poles.

Emergency personnel on Ocracoke were reporting notable amounts of standing water in the northbound lane between Ocracoke Village and the NPS Campground, and surface sands on the road north of mile marker 76.

Highway 12 / Irvin Garrish on Ocracoke is passable, but drivers should exercise caution. There is a significant amount of water standing at the Ocracoke-Hatteras Ferry Dock, but the ferry is operational.

Trained storm spotter Tim Forrest reported damage to El's Drive-In in Morehead City. He said all the oak trees around the restaurant were damaged or knocked down.

According to the daughter of the owners of El's Drive-in, the building survived the storm. She said there was slight damage to the building's roof, damage to an outside freezer roof, and some of the trees in picnic area were down.

About 6,000 Duke Energy Progress customers were without power in Carteret County Tuesday night. According to Progress Energy Carolinas, several power lines were damaged in Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, and Salter Path. The outages have since been restored.

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