and Impacts –
Hurricane Emily moved across
the Outer Banks as a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson
scale on the evening of August 31, 1993. A portion of the
western eye wall passed over Hatteras Island (Figure 3) and the surrounding
waters, with one-minute surface winds estimated between 65 and 100 knots.
Analysis at the Hurricane Research Division,
indicated surface winds speeds as high as 100 knots over Pamlico Sound.
This caused strong on-shore winds on the Pamlico Sound side of Hatteras
Island and the accompanying storm surge coastal flooding was as high as
10.2 feet above normal tide levels at Buxton, NC. The flooding was made
worse by high astronomical tides. There were reports of cars
“floating” in several parking lots in Buxton. In numerous
homes, waist-high waves broke through windows and surged into living rooms.
The flooding was one to two feet higher than predicted on one-hundred-year
flood maps, resulting in the need for revised flood-mapping for Hatteras
Island. The Atlantic coast maximum surge levels are estimated to be only 1
to 2 feet above normal.
were Hurricane Watches posted from North Carolina to Delaware at 5 pm EDT
August 29, or about 47 hours prior to the closest approach of the
hurricane. A Hurricane Warning
was issued at 200 pm EDT August 30, or 26 hours prior to the closest
approach of the cyclone.
Eastern North Carolina, Hurricane Emily damaged 553 homes beyond repair. In
addition, officials cut power to Hatteras Island, due to fears that downed
power lines could start a fire. The area hardest hit by Emily in North
Carolina was the city of Buxton, with storm surge, along with
a rainfall amounts of 7.5 inches. There were reports of sinkholes on
Highway 12 due to heavy rains produced by the storm, some of which
swallowed up three four-wheel-drive vehicles. Because Emily hit during
Labor Day weekend, the tourism industry suffered after Emily, losing
$10,000,000 (1993 US Dollars) when 160,000 were evacuated from Eastern
North Carolina. Emily's storm surge and ensuing flooding left 25% of the
people of Cape Hatteras homeless, which caused Dare County to issue a
federal disaster declaration. Emily's strong winds uprooted trees, downed
power lines, tore the roofs off of some homes, and combined with its
flooding, caused $35,000,000 (1993 US Dollars) in damage. Emily only caused
2 deaths in North Carolina, which occurred when two swimmers drowned in
Nags Head. The low death toll can likely be attributed to the massive
evacuations of the area.
Figure 3. Western eyewall
of Hurricane Emily over the Outer Banks at around 6 pm EDT, August 31, 1993
(photo courtesy University of Wisconsin)
Centers for Environmental Prediction
Carolina’s Hurricane History by Jay Barnes (Third Edition)