Monday, December 03, 2018

Hurricane Season

The official Hurricane Season begins on June 1, and ended this past Friday, November 30. The peak of the season is mid-August to late October. Some of the most devastating storms to strike the Outer Banks were the San Cirioca Storm in 1899, the unnamed 1933 hurricane, and the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944. Recent hurricanes that brought strong winds and tidal flooding to Ocracoke were Hurricane Alex in 2004 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Tide Markers at Village Craftsmen

Although hurricanes Florence and Michael threatened Ocracoke Island in 2018, little damage occurred, and there was only insignificant tidal flooding.

I recently wondered what other major hurricanes have struck Ocracoke, and learned about the "1775 Independence Hurricane." This is what I read on Wikipedia:

"On August 27, 1775, a hurricane hit the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It turned northeastward and left the state on September 2, bringing heavy wind and rain to southeastern Virginia. A letter from New Bern, North Carolina, recounted, 'We had a violent hurricane...which has done a vast deal of damage here, at the Bar, and at Matamuskeet, near 150 lives being lost at the Bar, and 15 in one neighborhood at Matamuskeet.'

"The September 9, 1775, edition of The Virginia Gazette reported: 'The shocking accounts of damage done by the rains last week are numerous: Most of the mill-dams are broke, the corn laid almost level with the ground, and fodder destroyed; many ships and other vessels drove ashore and damaged, at Norfolk, Hampton, and York. In the heavy storm of wind and rain, which came on last Saturday, and continued most part of the night, the Mercury man of war was drove from her station abreast of the town of Norfolk, and stuck flat aground in shoal water.'"

Apparently Ocracoke, with fewer than 150 residents, was too remote to make the news. I wonder how much damage the Independence Hurricane did. We may never know, but we do know the community survived and flourished.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a chapter from Philip Howard's book, Digging up Uncle Evans, about the 1837 wreck of the Steamboat Home, one of the most horrific wrecks ever on the North Carolina coast. You can read it here:

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