Flooding

Flooding in Chapel Hill on Sunday
Jstn568 / wunderground

Flooding and hurricanes are the main natural threats facing North Carolina, according to a new risk assessment map published online by the World Bank.

The interactive map is designed to help developers and project planners anticipate natural disasters and the impact of climate change.

Flash flooding led first responders to evacuate residents of two Chapel Hill apartment complexes.
Jess Clark

Flash flooding led firefighters to evacuate residents of two Chapel Hill apartment complexes Wednesday afternoon.

The Walters Dam on the Pigeon River in Waterville.
ChristopherM / Wikipedia

Fourteen dams failed in South Carolina as a result of heavy storms in the region. North Carolina escaped that fate this time around.

Bridget Munger of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says the state regulates more than 2,600 active dams. Many are classified as low- and intermediate-hazard levels, which means a failure could block road ways and cause thousands of dollars in damage. But nearly half of state regulated dams are considered high-hazard.

Falls Lake
JCWF / Wikipedia

Reservoirs are full and over-flowering after North Carolina received 15-inches of rain in the past week.

State Climatologist Ryan Boyles says that's about three-months-worth of rain. Boyles says the rain was welcome, at first, after a very dry summer.

"Sometimes it's either too little or too much, and it's not very often that we can get just the right amount," Boyles said. "But in particular, it's tough to manage when so much rain falls over such a short period of time. The ground just can't absorb it."

Governor Pat McCrory addressed a gaggle of local officials and media members on Tuesday in Brunswick County. He says the main focus now is determining how to best help farmers in the eastern region of the state effected by weekend storms.
Jeff Tiberii

Many farmers in eastern North Carolina continue to assess crop damage following weekend storms. Flooded fields are expected to result in depleted peanut, sweet potato and cotton harvests this fall. Governor Pat McCrory expressed concern about the agriculture industry at a Tuesday briefing.

A picture of a flooded New Jersey pumpkin patch.
Jackie / Wikipedia

The worst of the stormy weather has passed. But Brian Long of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the trouble is still ahead for farmers.

"Unfortunately, the impacts are on some of the crops that are major for North Carolina: Peanuts, sweet potatoes, cotton, tobacco, soybeans, in particular. And then you think about farmers, such as pumpkin farmers, that this is the time of year when their crop is in demand, and we're hearing some reports of pumpkins, you know, actually just floating in water in fields."

A picture of a puddle.
Wars / Wikipedia

Several storms, including Hurricane Joaquin, have brought heavy rains, strong winds, and high tides to North Carolina. It's causing flooding, saturated ground, slick roads and falling trees.

Route 12 on Hatteras Island was cut in five locations by Hurricane Irene.
Steve Helber / AP

The National Hurricane Center will be providing new warnings about storm surge starting next year. 

In the past, hurricane warnings have been issued based on wind predictions. Now, storm surge will be taken into account as well.

Jamie Rhome of the National Hurricane Center says that is especially important for states like North Carolina.

"I can't just say that storm surge is going to be bad in North Carolina because in some places it is going to catastrophic and in the next community over it might not be so bad," Rhome says.

An illustration of Hurricane Arthur's projected path.
National Weather Service

Category one Hurricane Arthur has maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.

Hatteras Island residents have begun a mandatory evacuation this morning, and a State of Emergency has been issued for all of Dare County. Hyde County has issued a voluntary evacuation for Ocracoke Island for 2 p.m. today.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Lara Pagano said North Carolinians can expect to feel the effects of the hurricane's outer bands today.

A preliminary flood maps show gains and reductions in base flood elevation along the coast.
NC Department of Public Safety

It would be easy to look at the newest round of floodplain maps and think that we've been wrong about the Outer Banks all this time.

For the past decade, the standard line has been that things on the coast are getting worse. Sea levels are rising; the shoreline is eroding; flooding is becoming a bigger threat. Flood risk is largely determined by a series of maps produced by the state of North Carolina. Those maps then make their way to FEMA, who administer the National Flood Insurance Program. Basically, the higher your risk, the more you pay in flood insurance.

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