WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Remembering Floyd: Storm made landfall 15 years ago

Posted September 16, 2014

— Residents of eastern North Carolina have no trouble recalling the impacts from dozens of tropical systems, but for many, memories of Hurricane Floyd – which made landfall 15 years ago Tuesday – are hauntingly fresh.

The Category 2 storm made landfall near the mouth of the Cape Fear River during the early-morning hours on Sept. 16, 1999, packing winds of 105 mph.

Research teams recorded a 122 mph wind gust near Topsail Beach, and the storm surge peaked at about 10 feet in spots along the North Carolina coast.

Floyd's lasting impact would be realized in the next few days, however, as several inches of rain from the storm overflowed riverbanks, causing flood waters to cover roads and inundate entire communities.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport recorded 6.55 inches of rain, but some areas in the Coastal Plain saw nearly 20 inches, and dozens of communities were pummeled by more than 10 inches of rain. The timing of Floyd's arrival added to the chaos. The storm arrived less than two weeks after Tropical Storm Dennis dumped between 6 and 16 inches of rain across many of the same areas.

The Tar River, which runs by Rocky Mount, crested the day after Floyd's landfall at 33 feet – 18 feet above flood stage – putting 25 percent of the city under water. More than 500 people had to be rescued from trees, cars and homes.

When all was said and done, 52 people in North Carolina died from the Floyd – most of whom drowned as they tried to flee to higher ground.

The floods destroyed more than 8,000 homes, damaged an additional 67,000 and caused more than $6 billion in property damage and $1 billion in farm losses. About 3,000,000 chickens and turkeys and 30,000 hogs died.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared 66 counties natural disaster areas.

The name Floyd was retired by the World Meteorological Organization.


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  • Joseph Smith Sep 17, 2014
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    The effects of El Nino are fewer and weaker hurricanes. NOAA? heard of them? Fewer and weaker.

  • Anita Woody Sep 17, 2014

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    Yes we are. We are having more higher category hurricanes. Just because they don't hit land doesn't mean it isn't happening. Please cite your scientific research otherwise.

  • Joseph Smith Sep 17, 2014
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    'The fact is that we are having more severe hurricanes.'

    Complete nonsense. A little research will show you that not only are there fewer they're also weaker.

  • Anita Woody Sep 17, 2014

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    The fact is that we are having more severe hurricanes. Just because one doesn't hit North Carolina downt mean it isn't happening. Nonetheless, it doesn't matter how many hurricane you have in a season, 1 hitting North Carolina is devastating. The fact that more storms are now stronger statistically is accurate that NC has more potential to receive a stronger storm.

  • Joseph Smith Sep 17, 2014
    user avatar

    It's all politics. The propaganda movies use film clips of hurricanes to promote their cause. Now that their predictions have not happened they're scrambling to keep the scam going.

  • Hammers Sep 17, 2014

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    Thanks, Anita. People are on here recalling a difficult moment in their lives, and he wants to turn it into politics.

  • SaveEnergyMan Sep 17, 2014

    Had 10 inches of water in my basement after the storm because we lost power for a day or so. I count myself lucky compared to the down east folks.

    Climate change or not, I am glad we haven't seen that kind of damage here in a while and hope we won't for another 15 years or more.

  • Anita Woody Sep 16, 2014

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    Gary_too is aspenstreet_too

  • Baybee Doll Sep 16, 2014

    So where is the article about Fran? September 5, 1996-- have you forgotten already, WRAL?

  • Joseph Smith Sep 16, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Shame? No thank you for showing what a scam it all is.