It has been decades since a Category 4 hurricane made landfall in North Carolina.
It has now been 66 years since Hurricane Hazel hit the state. It came inland on October 15, 1954 near the state line with South Carolina.
Hazel is still the strongest hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina.
Wind gusts were estimated between 125 and 150 mph at Wrightsville Beach, Oak Island, Holden Beach, and Calabash. A storm surge of up to 18 feet was reported along the southeast coast of North Carolina.
Hazel’s impacts were felt well inland from the coast, as well. Wind gusts reached up to 110 mph in Fayetteville and 90 mph in Raleigh.
Reports after the storm estimated there were at least two to three trees down per city block in Raleigh. Many of those trees were on homes and automobiles.
Hazel was a fast-moving storm, and its remnants eventually made it to Canada.
In North Carolina, 19 deaths were attributed to the hurricane. Overall, there were an estimated 15,000 homes and structures in the state that were destroyed. Another 39,000 homes and structures were damaged.
Hurricane Hazel was part of an active period for hurricanes in North Carolina during the 1950s. Between 1954 and 1955, six named storms made landfall or brought hurricane conditions to the state.
With a larger population, more businesses, and many more homes and buildings, a storm like Hazel would cause much more damage now.