Here in South East North Carolina dealing with hurricanes is a way of life. We’ve been blessed to have had a break from “the big ones” since the 90’s. With Hurricane Matthew out there it has many of us reminiscing of Hazel in 1954. Hurricane Hazel made landfall on October 15th in Long beach. The storm’s arrival in North Carolina occurred during a full moon high tide, maximizing the impact of the storm surge on the barrier beaches of Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle, Holden Beach, Long Beach, Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Topsail Island.
Hurricane Hazel was the only category 4 to strike the NC coast in the 20th century. Winds topped 140mph and after making landfall tracked NW toward Raleigh leaving destruction and devastation in her path. Long Beach and Oak Island feeling the worst of the damage, losing 352 out of 357 structures due to the storm surge. When all was said and done 95 souls were lost, 19 in NC.
With that said being prepared and having a plan is very important. With the anticipation of a hurricane and or a tropical storms also brings out the anticipation of high swells for surfers and great fishing from our many piers.
For our local surfers they live for this, watch the surf reports and head out for the biggest swells. Hurricane waves can be 3-4 times the size of normal surf, while the hurricane is off the coast you can find local surfers laying on their surfboards with the anticipation of riding in on that next big wave.
You can also go to any pier and find fishermen lined up down any of our many piers in their yellow slickers with their fishing gear in tow. Braving the strong winds and horizontal rain to catch the big one.
As a storm system approaches, a low-pressure warm front rides up over the top of a high-pressure cold front, causing condensation to take place in the form of clouds. During the time the skies are clouding up, and right on through to the end of the storm, there is a slow and steady drop in barometric pressure that increases as the main body of the system approaches. Once the main body of the storm hits and moves through the area, rain, winds the pressure continues to drop until it bottoms out as the storm runs its course. The fishing should be good this entire time.
Although it would (should not) not be possible to fish or surf during a category 4 hurricane, locals do look forward to the surf and low pressure that makes for good surfing and fishing.
For the rest of us, we should watch the news keep our eye to the sky, pray for the best and prepare for the worst. Of Course we should take the advice of our local officials. Keeping in mind if you live on one of our islands and they are evacuated, if you do not heed their advice and leave you may be putting yourself in danger as well as first responders after they close down access to the islands.
To everyone no matter how you are preparing for Matthew, stay safe, keep your phone charged and download one of our local news apps to stay updated. I like the WECT app. Also remember to keep your pets safe and make sure they have updated tags, the best way is to micro chip them. A lot of pets get displaced during storms, with proper tags and precautions you can be reunited.