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A Terrifying, Deadly Storm Struck Charlotte In 1989… And No One Saw It Coming

Hurricane Irma is making her way through the Caribbean, heading straight towards the U.S., and many Charlotteans are remembering a similar hurricane that struck the Carolinas back in 1989. Hurricane Hugo hit the South Carolina coast hard in September 1989, and while many did not think it would be able to travel as far inland as Charlotte… it did.

Although Irma’s path has not yet been clearly defined as to which parts of the country she will most strongly impact, some storm forecasters have expressed concerns that Irma’s path may lead her into the Western Carolinas. Hugo must serve as a reminder that it is possible for hurricanes of this strength to travel as far inland as the Queen City – even though we are more than 150 miles away from the coast.

As we prepare ourselves for the potential threat of Irma, we feel that it is important to look back on Hugo as a reminder that such storms are to be taken very seriously, no matter how safe we feel in our inland city. Above all else, we wish everyone in the pathway of this massive incoming storm to stay safe and prepared, should another Hugo-like situation come to pass. We urge you to use the devastating event in 1989 as an experience to learn from, to better plan and prepare for Irma, should she make landfall and continue inland toward Charlotte.

As of early Thursday morning, Hurricane Irma remains a Category 5 storm, and both North and South Carolina have declared a state of emergency as the hurricane barrels towards shore. Keep up-to-date on the status of this storm through credible news organizations, like the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center, the Weather Channel’s Irma forecasts, and the continuously-updated NWS Twitter page for the Carolinas region. The N.C. Department of Public Safety and North Carolina Emergency Management have even developed a special ReadyNC app that can be downloaded here.

Above all, be safe!