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Hurricane fran category 3 : Biggest natural disasters from the last two decades
Hurricane fran category 3

Hurricane fran category 3 : Biggest natural disasters from the last two decades

Hurricane Fran made landfall 17 years ago Thursday- September 5, 1996- just southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. Heavy rains created flooding problems from the Carolinas into Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and strong winds caused widespread damage with hurricane-force wind gusts extending as far inland as Raleigh, North Carolina. 26 fatalities are directly attributed to Hurricane Fran.

Hurricane Fran developed from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on August 22, 1996. It followed closely behind powerful Hurricane Edouard, which helped prevent Fran from developing quickly early in its life. Edouard eventually moved far enough out to sea to allow Fran enough energy to develop into a powerful Category 3 before making landfall. Around 8 p.m. September 4, Fran reached its peak intensity with sustained winds of 120 mph and a minimum pressure of 946 millibars.

Moving at around 17 mph, the center of Fran made landfall over the Cape Fear area on September 5 at around 8:30 p.m. Within six hours of landfall, the storm weakened to a Category 1. After another 12 hours, the storm was downgraded to a depression after moving over Virginia. Fran continued on its north-northwest track, losing its tropical characteristics while it moved over the eastern Great Lakes.

Locally, all of the Grand Strand had wind gusts at or above hurricane-force. According to the National Weather Service, the Cherry Grove Pier recorded a peak wind gust of 77 miles per hour as Fran swept by the area, and gusts of 70-80 miles per hour were recorded at Myrtle Beach International Airport, along with a gust of 76 which was recorded at the Old Pavilion. As far inland as Florence, winds gusted to around 65 miles per hour. Along with strong winds, torrential rains flooded areas of the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, with some areas seeing upwards of 10 inches.

Fran caused a total of approximately $1.275 billion in damage in North Carolina alone, along with $20 million in South Carolina. Including damage estimates from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the total cost of damage from Fran exceeded $3.2 billion.


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