65 years ago, Hurricane Hazel became only Category 4 storm to hit North Carolina

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019
History: Hurricane Hazel's path
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Chris Hohmann recalls the path and the wrath of 1954's Hurricane Hazel.

65 years ago Tuesday, Hurricane Hazel was etched in North Carolina lore forever.

Hazel began in the Carribean Sea and strengthened to a category 4 storm. It crossed over Haiti and caused massive destruction. Hitting land caused it to weaken some, but the storm restrengthened over tropical waters.

It made landfall on Oct. 15 near the North Carolina/South Carolina border as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and a devastating 18-foot storm surge. It's still the only Category 4 storm to hit North Carolina. Hazel wiped out the entire town of Garden City, South Carolina.

Hazel moved swiftly through the coastal plain and piedmont with winds that gusted from 90 to 120 mph, causing widespread damage. It later charged up the east coast, crushing the mid-Atlantic region. Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York were all impacted. The storm even caused significant damage in Canada, crossing the border by the evening hours.

Hazel caused an estimated 1,200 fatalities and $420 million in damage, which is an estimated $3.7 billion by today's standards.

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