Kim Mesterhazy and her three children hurried to the Kill Devil Hills beach Monday between the rain bands of Tropical Storm Arthur.
Splashing knee deep in the rough surf with ominous clouds overhead was better than sitting in the house.
The family arrived here Saturday when the Outer Banks opened to visitors for the first time since March, when Dare and Currituck counties closed their borders in the hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’d rather social distance here than spend another 60 days at home,” said Mesterhazy, of Fredricksburg.
Saturday and Sunday were sunny and mild. People loaded down with chairs, blankets and coolers scurried across N.C. 12 on the way to the surf. Many jogged along the road or walked their dogs on the beach.
Signs along the road welcomed travelers. Most business owners were anxious to see customers again while maintaining precautions against the virus.
Pirates Beachwear in Kill Devil Hills sold masks three for $5, or free after a purchase. They also were offering free rubber gloves.
Traffic was heavy and business was about as robust as it is during mid summer, said store manager Tatiana Mykytiuk.
But commerce slowed Monday as the storm passed with more rain expected later this week.
It is disappointing the weather turned nasty just as visitors returned, but the setback is temporary, Mykytiuk said.
“The Outer Banks always bounces back,” she said.
Winds gusted Monday up to about 45 miles per hour. Rainfall reached two inches in Nags Head and more than 3 inches in Wanchese as of 10 a.m. More rain followed.
Occasionally the rain stopped and the sun broke through drawing people out of their vacation homes.
Mesterhazy, a school teacher, taught a class Monday morning via Zoom. Her children went through soccer drills with their coach, also on Zoom.
When the sun popped out, it was a pleasant surprise, she said.
“We had no intention of going outside today,” she said.
Justin Fontane, Cameron Bhatti and a car full of friends from Woodbridge, Va. came to the Outer Banks on a whim Saturday. After two days of sunning on the beach they were leaving for home Monday morning.
“Yesterday was like the perfect day,” Bhatti said.
If not for the rainy weather, they would have stayed longer, he said.
“We’ll be back in a couple of weeks,” he said.
The National Weather Service issued warnings of rough surf and rip currents. Two girls were saved from a rip current Saturday when a Dare County man and a friend heard their screams and swam out some 100 yards to rescue them.
Arthur was not a strong storm and remained about 20 to 30 miles off the coast, said Shane Kearns, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morehead City.
Even as Arthur moved off the coast Monday afternoon, an upper level trough was expected to arrive and sit for days. It was expected to generate sporadic rain, including heavy downpours, Kearns said.
Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272, firstname.lastname@example.org