September a bad month for hurricanes in NC, history shows

September a bad month for hurricanes in NC, history shows
Trees downed by Fran in eastern North Carolina. (Photo by Dave Gatley/FEMA) (Dave Gatley | FEMA)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Helene. Hugo. Fran. The list goes on with the names of powerful hurricanes that have hit North Carolina in the month of September.

Data maintained by the North Carolina Climate Office shows at least 19 hurricanes have impacted North Carolina since they started naming storms in the mid-1950s.

Of those 19, nine of them have come in September. Florence would make the tenth modern-day September landfall.

Some of the September storms have been a doozy.

(NC Climate Office)

Hurricane Helene, which brushed the southeastern coast on September 27, 1958 but whose eye didn’t actually make landfall, was the last Category 4 hurricane to come near North Carolina.

Three years earlier, Hurricane Ione came ashore on September 19, 1955 as a Category 2 storm.

Even though it was weaker in intensity, the Climate Office said, the storm came on the heels of two other tropical storms that summer.

It also sat and dumped soaking rain on parts of the state for two days, much like Florence is currently projected to do, causing major flooding that washed out roads all over eastern North Carolina.

(WBTV Graphic)

“An estimated 90,000 acres of farmland was also flooded, resulting in about $46 million in crop damage,” a blog post from the Climate Office said. “Ione’s total damage in North Carolina was $88 million, equal to about $782 million today.”

Four decades later, Hurricanes Fran and Floyd wreaked havoc on eastern North Carolina in 1996 and 1999, respectively.

The Climate Office estimates Floyd to have caused $8.58 billion worth of damage and caused 52 deaths. Fran is estimated to have cost $3.65 billion and caused 24 deaths.

Of course, longtime residents in Charlotte remember Hurricane Hugo, which visited the Queen City in 1989 after it had weakened into a Tropical Storm.

(NC Climate Office)

Hugo, which still brought hurricane-force wind gusts by the time it hit Charlotte and Hickory, is estimated to have caused $1.92 billion worth of damage and caused 12 deaths.

“In Charlotte, the intense winds toppled an estimated 80,000 trees, also knocking out windows and knocking down power lines. Some residents were without electricity for up to two weeks,” the Climate Office blog said.

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