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North Carolina's Hurricane History

North Carolina's Hurricane History: Fourth Edition, Updated with a Decade of New Storms from Isabel to Sandy

Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: Fourth Edition
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    North Carolina's Hurricane History
    Book Description:

    North Carolina's Hurricane Historycharts the more than fifty great storms that have battered the Tar Heel State from the colonial era through Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, two of the costliest hurricanes on record. Drawing on news reports, National Weather Service records, and eyewitness descriptions, hurricane historian Jay Barnes emphasizes the importance of learning from this extraordinary history as North Carolina prepares for the inevitable disastrous storms to come. Featuring more than 200 photographs, maps, and illustrations, this book offers amazing stories of destruction and survival. While some are humorous and some tragic, all offer a unique perspective on the state's unending vulnerability to these storms.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0834-1
    Subjects: Environmental Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
    (pp. 1-6)

    In November 2011, weeks after Hurricane Irene swept through eastern North Carolina, I took a drive through portions of Pamlico, Beaufort, Hyde, and western Dare Counties to see for myself what remained of the storm’s impact. I cruised the two-lane roads that wind endlessly through the region, passing farm fields, large timber tracts, and modest homes that line the highway. High water filled most of the roadside ditches—not because of the hurricane, but simply in testament to the low, flat profile of the area. It was easy to see broken and fallen pines near the highway, and in some...

    (pp. 7-24)

    There is nothing in our atmosphere that compares with their awesome fury. Arctic storms are often larger and tornadoes may pack more violent winds, but no weather system can match the broad-scale destructive force of hurricanes. For centuries, they have left legacies of death and despair. Many tropical and temperate nations know too well the ruinous effects of these devastating storms.

    In the Western Hemisphere, they are known ashurricanes, a term derived from the Caribbean Indian word translated as “big wind” or “storm god.”Typhoonsin the western Pacific andcyclonesin the Indian Ocean are other names for...

    (pp. 25-30)

    Records of storms and hurricanes are widely scattered throughout the history of colonial North Carolina. These early accounts are clearly incomplete, as there were certainly numerous storms that occurred during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries for which no significant record exists. Thanks to research completed by Charles Carney, Albert Hardy, and James Stevenson of the National Weather Service, early hurricane reports have been compiled for North Carolina. Portions of these records are included here as a sampler of our hurricane history. But be reminded that North Carolina has been struck, on average, by one hurricane every four years over...

  6. 3 TAR HEEL TRAGEDIES, 1875–1900
    (pp. 31-54)

    Coastal North Carolina enjoyed a prosperous period through the late nineteenth century, as many cities and towns became linked by waterway, railroad, and telegraph. Growing agricultural and fishing industries provided work for residents, and the lure of the ocean attracted an increasing number of Piedmont vacationers. The coastal population was growing at a steady pace, even though great storms frequently battered eastern communities.

    The twenty-five-year period that ended the century was a particularly active one for hurricanes in North Carolina. At least twelve struck the state during that time, and five of those were severe. On several occasions, two or...

    (pp. 55-74)

    The first severe hurricane of the twentieth century to move across the North Carolina coast came late in 1904, on November 13. This category 3 storm passed near Hatteras during the morning and brought high tides and heavy rains to the entire coast. Two schooners were wrecked near Cape Fear, and extensive damage was reported at Fort Caswell. At New Inlet, the storm surge swept away the Life-Saving Station, and four crewmen drowned. Four more lives were lost in the wreck of theMissouri, a schooner that went down near Washington, North Carolina. Several lives were lost when a fishing...

  8. 5 HURRICANE ALLEY, 1951–1960
    (pp. 75-130)

    During the 1950s, while many Americans were worrying about Khrushchev and the bomb, the people of eastern North Carolina were grappling with a different kind of surprise attack—hurricanes. Throughout history, these violent storms had visited the Carolina coastline with random frequency. Sometimes they had struck twice or even three times within a single year. Most often, however, several years had passed between major storms, and coastal residents had been able to pick up the pieces of their lives and rebuild before the next hurricane. But for a period in the mid-1950s, a flurry of hurricane activity dispelled all statistical...

  9. 6 THE MODERN ERA, 1961–2000
    (pp. 131-248)

    Hurricane Ginger was the first hurricane in several years to test the will of North Carolina’s coastal residents. On September 30, 1971, Ginger made landfall on Atlantic Beach as a mild category 1 storm. Gusts were reported as high as 92 mph at Atlantic Beach, 70 mph at Cape Hatteras, and 58 mph at Topsail Beach. Tides along the beaches were about four feet above normal, although several locations along the banks of Pamlico Sound recorded tides of five to seven feet.

    Rainfall from Ginger was heavy, largely because of the extremely slow movement of the storm. Rainfall totals greater...

  10. 7 THE NEW MILLENNIUM, 2001–2012
    (pp. 249-294)

    Hurricane Floyd left an indelible mark on eastern North Carolina, and the effort to recover and rebuild extended well into the new millennium. By the summer of 2003, many communities across eastern North Carolina were starting to put the sorrows of the great flood behind them. Schools had been rebuilt; flooded homes had been repaired, moved, elevated, or torn down; and local economies in places like Rocky Mount and Greenville were on the rebound. Floyd had delivered epic destruction to homes, businesses, and infrastructure, but it also took an emotional toll that could only be eased with time. In addition...

    (pp. 295-302)

    For centuries, hurricanes have lashed the North Carolina coast, battering the people and property of the state. Countless stories have been told of the awesome forces of wind and water and the harrowing ordeals faced by the victims of these storms. Among these stories of human survival, however, are numerous accounts of how the state’s nonhuman creatures survived. Domestic animals and wildlife are, in many ways, just as vulnerable to hurricanes as humans. Their stories have also become part of our fascination with the hurricane phenomenon.

    Through the years, many isolated portions of the Tar Heel coast have provided haven...

    (pp. 303-318)

    Irene and Isabel, Floyd and Fran, Donna and Hazel—these are just a few of the many hurricanes to sweep through the Tar Heel State, each making an indelible mark on our collective memory. They punctuate a long record of Carolina cyclones, notable benchmarks within a recurring cycle of tropical weather. Each generation of North Carolinians has its own hurricane stories to tell, and those who’ve been around a while can no doubt spin a tale about each of the above. In these pages, the histories of these storms are revealed, both to create a record and to offer a...

    (pp. 319-320)
    (pp. 321-324)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 325-335)