SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - As the 2015 tropical season approaches, it's a good time to have a reminder of what these powerful storm systems can do to impact the landscape.
One of the major impacts comes from storm surge. Storm surge is water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides that can increase the mean water level, impacting roads, homes and other infrastructure.
In addition, wind-driven waves are superimposed on the storm tide that further cause severe flooding in coastal areas.
High winds are also a huge contributor to damage when dealing tropical systems.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale classified hurricanes into five categories based on their sustained wind sped at the indicated time. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 or higher are considered major hurricanes for the potential for significant loss of life and property; Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous and require preventative measures.
Hurricane force winds can easily destroy poorly constructed buildings and mobile homes. Signs, roofing materials and items left outside become flying missiles in high wind. Falling trees can cause extensive damage to power lines, towers and water lines.
The strongest winds are typically found on the right side of the eye wall. Wind speed usually decreased significantly 12 hours after landfall but can be felt well inland.
Inland flooding is the most deadly and serious threat hurricanes bring to inland areas of North Carolina. Hurricane Floyd, the most devastating storm in the state's history, generated record flooding across much of eastern North Carolina, claiming 56 lives, living thousands homeless and entire towns underwater.
In the past 30 years, nearly 60 percent of all US tropical system deaths have occurred from inland freshwater flooding.
It is important to realized that the amount of rain a system produces is not related to the intensity of the wind. Weak systems have caused big floods throughout history.
All of these hazards can be life-threatening when a storm approaches the coastline. You should stay prepared and weather-aware anytime a tropical system threatens the region.