WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Remembering Hazel: Storm made landfall 60 years ago

Posted October 15, 2014

If you ask a North Carolina resident to name the hurricane they remember most, the answer likely depends on when they were born.

For residents under 60, Hugo, Fran or Floyd will likely be their answer.

But for the state's older residents, Hurricane Hazel, which made landfall 60 years ago Wednesday, is the storm of record.

The storm was the strongest on record to hit the North Carolina coast, and many of its records still stand today.

"Winds peaked at levels most of the state has never seen otherwise, and so did the run-up of water levels at the coast, which have never been matched," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said.

The catastrophic storm formed in early October 1954, and when it made landfall near the North Carolina-South Carolina border, it packed 150 mph winds. The storm, which earned the nickname "The Bulldozer," still had hurricane-strength winds when it roared through Raleigh.

Hazel killed 19 people and injured more than 200 in North Carolina, and it destroyed more than 15,000 homes and businesses in the state.

Property losses totaled $136 million. A similar storm today would result in staggering losses, Moss said.

"In the years since Hazel, we've added a lot of population, more buildings, more roads," he said. "A similar passage of a fast-moving Category 4 storm today would impact that many more structures and impact the lives of many more people. Hopefully, the added impacts could be mitigated somewhat by our ability to better anticipate the path and speed of the system."


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  • ogawar66 Oct 15, 2014

    I was only 7 years old when Hazel hit in Oxford, NC. My father had to walk a mile because the trees were down to got to our home. It was a frightening day for me and I am very skeptical when I hear another hurricane is coming our way. So far none have been as bad as Hazel.

  • ytb781pearl Oct 15, 2014

    Hazel was the hurricane which others in NC are still compared. I grew up hearing all about it...how mama broke her arm when the windows were blown out, how the house was flooded from the Roanoke River. I think this is a very newsworthy story....even my children know the family history of what happened when Hazel came through.

  • raleighboy524 Oct 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    So did World War 2 and D-day but we always take a moment to remember. Reflecting on the past is part of life.

  • raleighboy524 Oct 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You ain't from around here, are you? If you had lived through Hazel, you would completely understand noting this anniversary. Hazel is arguably the most significant natural disaster ever to hit NC. Just because you don't care doesn't make this story un-newsworthy. Relax, take a deep breath, and get on with your angry life.

  • Rebelyell55 Oct 15, 2014

    While the damage was bad here in NC. this storm traveled up north, and cross the Great Lakes, where it picked up some strength and cause a lot damage and death in Canada. I still remember my folks talking about this storm, how the eye passed over, it got clam, the sun was shining people were out checking damage, then 20 minutes later the back side blew through catching many unaware that they were actually in the eye of the storm thinking it was over.

  • gotnoid Oct 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I suppose what is interesting to me about Hurricane that occurred 60 years is:
    1. We didn't blame it on the president or carbon emissions.
    2. Hurricanes were weather event and not political events and no amount of tax or income redistribution affected the weather.
    3. After the storms, people fixed and rebuilt there own property rather than waiting and whining for FEMA and the government to do so.
    5. Most intelligent people learn from the past but I sense that does not include all that post here.

  • babylaceycarpenter Oct 15, 2014

    Talk about trying to re-hash old news. If your news day requires you to dig 60 years deep into the vault, maybe you need to just send a couple of folks home.

  • 31575 Oct 15, 2014

    This happened 60 years ago, get over it already.

  • justabumer Oct 15, 2014

    I was in the third grade when Hazel came to town. I don't know why no one figured out that there might be a problem but they didn't and we were in school. Sometime during the morning we were dismissed and I rode the bus out through the country while the storm raged. My cousin and I got off the bus at his house and found it empty since his parents had gone to another aunt and uncle's house to ride out the storm. School had dismissed before lunch and we were hungry so we were making peanut butter sandwiches when my uncle came to collect us and carry us to be with the others. We sat in the house and watched as trees fell, none of which actually stuck the house. When the storm was over I was finally able to get to my house which was a couple of fields over. Most of the trees were on the ground but I don't recall any damage to the house. I also don't recall anything about the cleanup efforts. I'm not really interested in experiencing another hurricane.

  • raleighboy524 Oct 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Wow! You're right and hundred of scientists around the world are wrong? You're a meteorological megalomaniac.