An active and destructive 2018 Atlantic Basin hurricane season ends on Friday. With no new tropical cyclones expected during the next five days, the current season will end with 15 named storms. Out of the 15, eight were hurricanes. For the Piedmont, our major systems were Florence and Michael.
Hurricane Florence came ashore near Wrightsville Beach on Sept. 14 with sustained winds of 90 mph. After landfall, most hurricanes pick up speed and move away. Hurricane Florence did the opposite. At times Florence's forward speed was less than 10 mph. Since Florence was moving so slowly, it dumped massive amounts of rain across the state. A possible rainfall record of nearly 36 inches was set in Bladen County. In the Piedmont, four to more than 12 inches of rain fell. Swollen rivers and creeks flooded Piedmont homes, cars and businesses.
Almost one month later, a powerful Hurricane Michael hammered the Gulf Coast of Florida. But it was a fast moving Tropical Storm Michael that whipped up the winds across the Piedmont. Wind gusts near 60 mph downed trees and power lines across the region. The Burlington airport recorded a 56 mph wind gust. Winds were clocked as high as 55 mph in Winston-Salem. If the wicked winds were not enough, Tropical Storm Michael also triggered additional flooding. Two to six inches of rain fall across the Piedmont.
Hurricane forecasters believe warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures led to an active season. On average, the Atlantic Basin produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three hurricanes with winds of at least 111 mph. In 2018 we had 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and two hurricanes with winds of at least 111 mph.