Stay or go? Many base evacuation decision on hurricane category alone

A boil advisory will go into effect Tuesday evening for about 100 Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Residents across the Cape Fear Region faced the tough decision whether to evacuate or stay as Hurricane Florence crawled toward the Carolina coast.

Florence’s two week track provided plenty of time for residents to prepare and monitor potential impacts in southeastern North Carolina. In that time, the unavoidable question eventually comes up - do you stay, board up and prepare for the worst or do you pack up and go?

With worries about property, pets and how long it will take to get back in, for some families the simple answer is to always stay. For others, it’s no question to pack up and leave.

Every family will have their personal reasons whether they will stay or leave if a hurricane is forecast to impact their home; however, one reason that’s heard far too often is when a decision is based on just the category of the storm.

The Saffir-Simpson Scale used to classify hurricane intensity is based on one hurricane measure - maximum sustained wind speed.

Your First Alert Weather Team encourages people to look past labels and focus on impacts. This rule is one of the many to live by each hurricane season. The full list is found here.

Everyone living in southeastern North Carolina, especially those in a landfall prone location, should take into consideration the size, speed and direction of the storm, estimated rainfall, storm surge, flooding, tornadoes to name a few examples.

The impacts from Hurricane Florence included record river flooding destroying roads and damaging thousands of homes and businesses. Wind gusts over 100 mph were recorded in Wilmington, making it the second highest wind gust ever recorded exceeded only by Hurricane Helene’s 135 mph gust in 1958. Catastrophic flash flooding occurred where flooding had never been known to occur. To close out the marathon event that was Florence, multiple tornadoes spun up on the backside of the storm resulting in over a dozen confirmed across the Cape Fear Region.

After Florence slugged through the Carolinas, we experienced firsthand that there is more to a hurricane than just wind speed. Each year, there are lessons to be learned after the Atlantic Hurricane season draws to a close.

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