Hurricane Irene
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons

Forecasters are predicting an Atlantic hurricane season that may include 10 to 16 named storms this year, according to annual predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released Friday.

Of those storms, 4 to 8 could become hurricanes.

Hurricane Irene
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina could experience fewer hurricanes in the coming decades, according to a new study from Colorado State University.

The Atlantic Ocean has been in an active era of hurricane activity since 1995, but cooler water temperatures and lower salinity rates in the North Atlantic could signal a beginning of the inactive period. 

Scott Cahoon, Hatteras Island Phantom Photography

As you stroll out toward the end of the Rodanthe Fishing Pier, it is impossible not to notice that it’s not entirely straight.

It goes a little bit up. It goes a little bit down. The pier jogs a little to the right and left in different places. A few boards are loose, too, and it’s mighty windy. In other words, it’s not perfect, but for Terry Plumblee, being here is a lifelong dream come true.

Image of geovisualization of potential inundation due to sea level rise in the Albemarle- Pamlico Estuarine System.
East Carolina University (Brent Gore, Matt Carey, Travis Hill and Michelle Covi)

A few weeks ago, the ocean washed away a 200-foot stretch of Highway 12 in Kitty Hawk.

It wasn’t destroyed by a hurricane or a Nor'easter. It was just another storm. Geologists say it is one more example of how life is changing along the North Carolina coast, thanks in part to the rising sea level. 

US Army Corps Of Engineers

North Carolina’s most recent Sea-Level Rise Report is the product of decades of tidal gauge data, computer modeling and hundreds of years of collected scientific expertise. But Jon Britt doesn’t need all that to tell him the water’s getting higher. He just needs to look out his back door.

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.

Hurricane Hazel uprooted over 100 trees on campus, tore the roof off the press box at the stadium, destroyed homecoming displays, and damaged stone work on the Chapel. Campus clean-up was greatly aided by a campaign created by the women of East Campus (th
Duke University Archives / Flickr/Creative Commons

Sixty years ago, Connie Ledgett and her first husband, Jerry Helms, were honeymooning on Oak Island near Wilmington. They had no idea that 140 mile-per-hour winds and an 18-foot storm surge were headed in their direction. That storm was Hurricane Hazel and it would be the strongest category 4 hurricane ever seen in the state. It devastated a 35-mile stretch of the coast.

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.

Hurricane Irene

Preliminary forecasts predict a fairly quiet hurricane season along the Atlantic coast. 

Researchers at Colorado State University expect nine named storms this year.  They say three of those will likely become hurricanes.  The average season produces about six hurricanes. 

Atmospheric science professor Phil Klotzbach says a strong El Niño in the Pacific should dampen hurricane conditions in the Atlantic.

The ReadyNC app is for Android and iPhone
State of NC

There's a new app for Iphone and Android that could help North Carolinians in this week's winter weather. It's called ReadyNC.

This app does not replace 9-1-1. Rather, it's a place to look for local weather or road conditions, or to find a local shelter if needed.  The app is even designed to offer real-time flood conditions on local waterways.

The app launched not long ago, so this will be its first big test.

If you search for the app on iTunes or the Apple App Sotre, look for "ReadyNC" (No space.)



The Atlantic hurricane season officially ended Saturday.

It turned out to be the quietest season since 1995, and it was first time in 19 years that no major storms formed in the Atlantic basin.

This came a surprise to forecasters.

Colorado State University predicted a higher-than average hurricane season. Researcher Paul Klotzbach says they estimated a 37-percent probability of a hurricane making landfall in North Carolina in August.

Hurricane Irene

The 2013 Atlantic storm season has been milder than expected so far. Only eight named storms have formed by the season's midpoint.  The latest -- Humberto -- is the first hurricane to form.

Car loads onto the M/V Stanford White ferry  at the Stumpy Point Ferry Terminal Thursday. DOT workers and contractors successfully tested new ramps at both Stumpy Point and Rodanthe, which serves as an emergency ferry route after major storms cut road acc

In preparation for peak hurricane season, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has tested out two new ramps along its emergency ferry route. The ramps are located at Stumpy Point, on the mainland, and Rodanthe, on the Outer Banks, a route that would allow access to Hatteras Island if Highway 12 were damaged in a storm.

“We hope not to need these ramps anytime soon,” said NC Ferry Division Deputy Director Jed Dixon in a statement. “But if we do, the new ramps will provide the public safer and more reliable access to the emergency route that serves as a lifeline to Hatteras Island after a major storm.”


Weather forecasters may soon have a new tool that could predict a hurricane's landfall more accurately. Researchers at Coastal Carolina University say the Hurricane Genesis and Outlook -- or HUGO -- project uses climate factors and data from previous storm seasons to predict where a storm will hit up to five days in advance. 

The new model could mean more focused information when it comes to coastal evacuations.

Hurricane Evacuation route sign
Wikimedia Commons

A new survey will gather information about coastal residents' attitudes and behaviors regarding hurricane evacuations. For the next month, local and state emergency officials will be conducting phone interviews to find out how residents react to evacuations and how to better implement emergency practices, like transportation and sheltering decisions. The study is being conducted for North Carolina Emergency Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District. 

A screen shot from the Surge Guidance System shows storm surge data from Hurricane Sandy, which hit the east coast in October 2012.

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are using storm surge data to give coastal communities a better idea of what they can expect during hurricanes. 

The university's Renaissance Computing Institute, or RENCI, has a network called the Surge Guidance System.  It gathers intricate details of ocean activity to calculate where, how and when storm surge will affect certain areas. 

Pat McCrory and Kieran Shanahan
Gurnal Scott

State leaders are stressing the importance of preparation for residents and themselves as hurricane season begins this weekend.   Forecasters say the 2013 Atlantic storm season could be another busy one.  

Their prediction of up to 20 named storms could surpass last year's 19.  North Carolina leaders stood along with Governor Pat McCrory to say now is the time for everyone to prepare for whatever may come.

Hurricane Ivan

Forecasters are urging North Carolinians to have an emergency plan for hurricanes before the season starts. 

Hurricane Ivan

Early forecasts predict an active hurricane season along the Atlantic coast. 

Researchers at Colorado State University expect 18 named storms this year.  They say four of those will likely be major storms at Category 3 or higher. 

William Gray, a professor emeritus in Colorado State's atmospheric science department, says this winter's ocean currents follow trends that lead to active storm activity in the tropics.

"This circulation has been especially strong," Gray says.

Hurricane Irene

North Carolina forecasters are keeping an eye on Hurricane Irene as it makes its way toward the southeast. The storm became a Category 2 hurricane late last night and is expected to strengthen to Category 3 later today. Meteorologist Katie Roussy says the latest forecast has North Carolina in the path of the storm.

Residents of North Carolina are being urged to get ready for hurricane season which officially begins next week. Forecasters and other officials are using this week to highlight some of things you can do to prepare for the big storms. Jeff Orrock is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He says a busy forecast means its time to get supplies like food, water, medicine and batteries purchased and organized.