Hurricane Irma could follow in Hugo’s deadly and destructive footsteps – Winston-Salem Journal

Posted: September 6, 2017 at 1:46 pm

GREENSBORO Another hurricane, and a Category 5 at that.

Unpredictable. Treacherous. Churning in the Atlantic, menacing the Southeast coast, threatening to ram ... some city yet to be determined.

Sound familiar? Bring back bad memories? Maybe of power outages and toppled oaks?

This week, all eyes are on Hurricane Irma, a monstrous windmaker that most likely will strike Florida on Sunday or Monday.

But 28 years ago this month, Winston-Salem, along with the rest of central North Carolina, was fixated on an eerily similar beast:

Hurricane Hugo.

The two storms have much in common at least at this point in their long, slow marches to landfall.

Hugo in 1989, like Irma in 2017, spent some time at Category 5.

Both storms took a similar path from the coast of Africa toward the Dominican Republic.

But thats where Hugo took a decidedly northwestern turn, making landfall Friday, Sept. 22, as a Category 4 near Charleston, S.C. The storm killed 29 people in the state, making it one of the worst disasters of the 20th century.

As bad as that was, it could have been worse. Early warnings allowed 350,000 people to evacuate the South Carolina coast safely.

The storm headed for Charlotte, then sped into the Triad as a mere tropical storm.

We were spared the worst of Hugo, which, as Staff Writer Taft Wireback wrote for the Sept. 23 edition of the News & Record in Greensboro, could have been shortened to Hu because most of its go went somewhere else.

About 51,000 residences lost electricity in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point, where tree after tree downed power lines. The wind gusted to 51 mph just before 7 a.m. at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

In Charlotte and parts of the western Piedmont, wind rather than rain did the bulk of the damage.

Then-Charlotte Mayor Sue Myrick declared a state of emergency, with about one-quarter of Mecklenburg County residents losing power.

Damage from Hugo cost roughly $10 billion in South Carolina and $725 million in North Carolina.

Irma could still follow in Hugos path, closing in on the Carolinas instead of barreling due west toward Miami, as forecasters expect.

If not, then maybe Tropical Storm Jose will.

Its following right behind Irma, bound for ... somewhere.

Contact Margaret Moffett at 336-373-7031 and follow @MargaretMoffett on Twitter.

Contact Margaret Moffett at 336-373-7031 and follow @MargaretMoffett on Twitter.

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Hurricane Irma could follow in Hugo's deadly and destructive footsteps - Winston-Salem Journal

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