Officials say peak of hurricane is near mid-September and suggest people prepare

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The peak of hurricane season is right around the corner on Sept. 10, which is why officials say it is important to be prepared.

Eastern Carolina has had several hurricanes leave a mark in the past like Hurricane Fran which hit in 1996 and the most recent one, Hurricane Florence in 2018. The strongest known hurricane to strike North Carolina was a late-season storm named Hurricane Hazel which came ashore at Calabash as a Category 4 storm on October 15, 1954.

“We saw anywhere up to 36 to 43 inches of rain depending on where you are in Onslow County which caused significant flooding and impacts along the area,” said Norman Bryson with Onslow County Emergency Services.

Hurricane season often results in flooded roads, trees down, and occasionally cars underwater. Bethany Wetterauer, a resident in Jacksonville, has lived here for the past three years and experienced flooding on Gum Branch Road after Tropical Storm Idalia hit on Aug. 31.

“Living here the last three years with the storms we’ve had,” said Wetterauer. “Gum Branch Road in particular right behind me does get some flooding, there’s some trees down even with light wind.”

On Wednesday, the National Weather Services turned another tropical storm in the Atlantic into Hurricane Lee, a category four as of Thursday afternoon. Hurricane Lee is currently sitting in the Atlantic inching its way towards Puerto Rico.

“There’s still a chance that track can change a little bit if that track gets pushed further back our impacts would increase,” said Zach Holder, Chief Meteorologist for WITN. “Right now, we are really just expecting higher rip current risks and some angrier ocean conditions.”

The most important advice emergency officials can share with people right now is to stay alert because these storm systems are unpredictable.

“Each one of these storms can be different how it affects an area just like the personality of a human being,” said Bryson.

Bryson recommends packing an all-hazard supply kit, having an evacuation plan, and communicating everything with family members. For a detailed list of what to put in your hurricane kit, click here.