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Duke Marine Lab campus to close as N.C. coast braces for Hurricane Florence

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Duke University Marine Lab is set to close in preparation for Hurricane Florence.

The lab, located on Pivers Island in Beaufort, North Carolina, has cancelled classes starting at noon on Tuesday and non-essential personnel will not be required to report to work on Wednesday. The campus will close beginning at noon on Wednesday. 

After leadership met on Monday, the decision to close the lab was announced on the lab’s Twitter account.

"The DUML Emergency Management Team met this morning to prepare for the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Florence on Thursday," wrote Andrew Read, director of the lab, in an email to the Marine Lab community Monday. "We are planning for the worse case scenario of a direct hit from a Category 4 hurricane."

The dining hall will serve lunch on Tuesday, but then undergraduates should leave the island and settle into housing on Duke's Durham campus, the email stated. The island will be closed to all personnel as of Wednesday at noon. 

As for any decisions regarding classes on Duke’s main campus, Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president of administration, told The Chronicle in an email Sunday that any decision regarding classes would be made by Provost Sally Kornbluth. She would consult with Duke's Emergency Management System to make any call regarding Duke’s severe weather policy. If the policy were to be enacted, a DukeALERT would be issued.

As of noon on Monday, Hurricane Florence is now a Category 4 Hurricane, with winds of up to 130 mph. The hurricane is expected to make landfall Wednesday night at the earliest, but most likely will hit the Carolina coast Thursday morning, according to National Hurricane Center estimates. 

Wes Hohenstein, chief meteorologist at CBS 17, told The Chronicle Sunday there is a two-thirds chance that Hurricane Florence rolls right through Durham. In that scenario, Hohenstein said to expect winds at more than 70 miles per hour, intense flooding, fallen trees and power outages for potentially days. If it strikes the Durham area, it would be a Category 2 Hurricane by that time, Hohenstein said

In the one-third chance that the hurricane path projection from the National Hurricane Center is incorrect, the effects on Durham could be very minimal, he said—it could even be sunny. 

According to the Marine Lab's website, a visitation day for Duke first-year students was scheduled for Sept. 15. The Duke University Marine Lab Emergency Management Team is set to meet again Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., and further updates will be released if needed, according to the lab’s tweets.

Once the lab closes at noon Wednesday, no one will be allowed back on the island until a formal notification has been released saying it is safe, Read wrote in the Monday email.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Bre Bradham

Bre is a senior political science major from South Carolina, and she is the current video editor, special projects editor and recruitment chair for The Chronicle. She is also an associate photography editor and an investigations editor. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief and local and national news department head. 

Twitter: @brebradham


Ben Leonard

Managing Editor 2018-19, 2019-2020 Features & Investigations Editor 

A member of the class of 2020 hailing from San Mateo, Calif., Ben is The Chronicle's Towerview Editor and Investigations Editor. Outside of the Chronicle, he is a public policy major working towards a journalism certificate, has interned at the Tampa Bay Times and NBC News and frequents Pitchforks. 


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