Remembering Florence: a vast storm that dwarfed its low category

Remembering Florence: a vast storm that dwarfed its low category

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina’s is one of the most hurricane-prone coastlines in the world.

Category 1 hurricanes are the lowest on the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale. So, many years from now, someone doing casual research on a hurricane named Florence might see a Cat. 1 landfall at Wrightsville Beach and think the storm unremarkable. But we know better!

The eye of Hurricane Florence roared ashore at Wrightsville Beach on the infamous morning of Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. It may been officially a Cat. 1 storm at landfall, but that’s only by one metric: sustained winds.

Five miles west, Wilmington felt its second highest wind gust ever during Florence: a shredding 105 mph. Fifty miles northwest, Elizabethtown led Florence’s horrific flooding rainfall tallies with 36 inches. Seventy miles northeast, Florence swallowed the city of New Bern in its worst storm surge ever. And 300 miles west, near Burnsville, is where Florence finally exited the Carolinas after four excruciating days.

Though slowly in many cases, Florence’s wounds are healing. But we would be best served to keep the lessons of Florence, a storm that hit much harder than surface labels would suggest, fresh in our minds and in the forefront of our plans.

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