24 years since Hugo made landfall - | WBTV Charlotte

24 years since Hugo made landfall


In the late hours of September 21, 1989 Hurricane Hugo slammed into the Isle of Palms near Charleston, SC.

The category 4 storm hit minutes before midnight, bringing with it winds of 135-140 mph in its eyewall, the strongest part of the storm. Hugo also produced a storm surge of just over 20 feet at its highest point, which was just north of the downtown area.

It's likely that if the eye made landfall as little as 20 miles to the south, much of the Battery would have been overrun with water.

Rainfall totals near the coast would have been much higher if not for the storm's quick forward motion, but that same quick speed also didn't allow the storm to weaken much as it moved ashore, and as the eye passed over Charlotte (150 miles inland), the storm remained a Category 1 hurricane in the early morning hours of the 22nd, just six hours after landfall.

Trees were toppled, roads and homes were damaged, and several tornadoes developed. Some schools were closed for as long as two weeks.

Damage didn't stop there. The North Carolina mountains as well as West Virginia and even Pennsylvania saw damage from the storm. By the time all was said and done, Hugo caused $7 billion in damage in the U.S., at the time the costliest hurricane to ever make landfall.

That was quickly surpassed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

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