Dark Water: The Legacy of Hurricane Floyd, Part 2
We remember Hurricane Floyd primarily for the water, but it is important to remember that Floyd was nearly a category 5 hurricane at one point. On September 13, 1999, Hurricane Floyd moved into an area of light shear and warm water near the Bahamas. The storm intensified rapidly, sustained winds increasing to 155 mph.
Combined with a storm diameter over 400 miles wide, Floyd necessitated one of the largest peacetime evacuations in United States history. Residents from Florida to the Carolinas were not taking any chances with this one. Of course, it was North Carolina that would ultimately take a direct hit. Given Floyd’s strength, we were bracing for primarily a wind event, but it did not turn out quite that way.
In the hours just before landfall, Floyd encountered a limited zone of dry air that briefly altered the tight structure of the eye. The window for re-organization was narrowing, and Floyd landfalled well below category 3 status around 3:00 a.m. on September 16. Wind gusts over 100 mph still caused damage in, pushing a 10-foot storm surge into some coastal areas. But it was the rain that caused the most problems.
Floyd’s rainbands were enhanced by an existing low pressure trough along the Carolina coast. Over 19 inches of rain fell across parts of the state. Combined with the rains from Hurricane Dennis just a few weeks before, some parts of Carolina wound up with nearly 40 inches of rain, and a permanent place in the record books.
For more on Floyd, visit our special, Remembering Hurricane Floyd section on our website.
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