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Hurricane Fran, North Carolina, September 5-6, 1996

Fran was a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, and estimated maximum sustained wind speeds were approximately 36 m/s at Kure Beach, NC, directly north of Cape Fear, the point of landfall. Gust speeds of up to 48 m/s were registered by the C-MAN station at Frying Pan Shoals, located approximately 60 km south-southeast of Cape Fear. Wind damage was extensive over the eastern sections of North Carolina and was caused primarily by falling trees. There were 36 fatalities in Hurricane Fran, 23 of them in North Carolina. Approximately 4,000 power poles were snapped off in North Carolina and 1,600 km of electrical distribution lines were down. The resulting outages affected more than 2 million customers in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. In terms of losses, North Carolina suffered approximately $5 billion in damages. Hurricane Fran caused extensive flooding in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Damage in Virginia and adjacent states was due in large part to local flooding rather than to the direct effects of wind.

NIST REPORT:  Hurricane Fran in North Carolina, September 5-6, 1996, NIST GCR 98-734; 56 p. January 1998.

 September 6, 1996 -- Uprooted trees and wind damage are among the hazards that destroyed this home during Hurricane Fran. Photo by Dave Gatley/ FEMA News Photo

North Carolina, September 6, 1996 -- Uprooted trees and wind damage are among the hazards that destroyed this home during Hurricane Fran. (Photo by Dave Gatley/ FEMA News Photo)

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Eric Letvin