Shooting The Breeze


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Following Florence: How Hatteras Island was Spared the Brunt of the Storm

Friday 05 October 2018 at 9:09 pm

A lot can change in a week, and this is certainly the case when it comes to hurricanes.

In the days leading up to Florence’s arrival, everyone was glued to the all-too-familiar National Hurricane Center’s Forecast Cone, to see if Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands were in the dreaded white projected center of the storm.

And for quite a while, we most definitely were.

This is why when a mandatory evacuation was called on Monday, September 10, a number of islanders who rarely leave for hurricanes packed up their vehicles and hit the road. Many of these residents hadn’t left for a storm since 2011’s Irene or even 2003’s Isabel, and most evacuees made sure to pack along their irreplaceable belongings in case they couldn’t come back.

In retrospect, this may seem like pessimism at its most paranoid, but you have to remember that for a number of days, it appeared very likely that Hatteras and Ocracoke islands were going to be hit by a Category 3 or 4 storm. The worst case scenario had us directly in the crosshairs, with Florence stalling and hovering for days, inundating the island with unprecedented rain and storm surge.

Indeed, this is exactly what happened, but it didn’t happen on Hatteras or Ocracoke islands.

In the days that followed the evacuation, Florence’s projected path – which had originally been aimed at the Outer Banks – continually shifted south, until the islands were subsequently outside the Forecast Cone altogether. And while every single village was impacted with ocean overwash during the storm, the islands were spared the brunt of the damage.

Florence eventually made landfall as a Category 1 on Wrightsville Beach – much weaker, and much further south, than originally forecasted.

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