The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday February 28th

Looking back on Matthew in preparation for Florence

DTH/Erin Hull
Buy Photos DTH/Erin Hull

Two years ago, Hurricane Matthew caused serious damage in the Southeastern United States. Some officials are looking back on what made Hurricane Matthew deadly to better prepare for Hurricane Florence.

Jonathan Blaes, a science and operations officer at the National Weather Service office in Raleigh, said the biggest threat to Orange County is likely to be extremely heavy rain as the storm slowly makes its way across the region.

In the Piedmont, the threat of potential river flooding and flash flooding can be extremely dangerous when it covers main roads.

Andrew Barksdale, a spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said North Carolina is taking the same precautions it did two years ago to prepare for Hurricane Matthew.

“Our response is the same, and unfortunately, this one looks like it might be perhaps even bigger than Matthew,” Barksdale said. “We need everyone to take it seriously and avoid flood areas and be prepared for the worst.”

During Hurricane Matthew, 28 people in North Carolina died as a result of the storm. At least 17 of those deaths were in vehicles that were swept away on flooded roads.

Blaes said Hurricane Matthew did not kill a single person in a county that touches salt water.

He said Chapel Hill could receive anywhere from 10 to 20 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence depending on the path of the storm. He said Orange County typically receives 45 to 60 inches of rain per year. 

“Don’t just ignore this — use common sense, and put yourself in safe place,” Blaes said.

Blaes said tropical storms are very different from one another, so it is difficult to accurately compare without knowing the exact path Florence will take.

“It’s fair to say that with each storm season we understand hurricanes and tropical cyclones better," Blaes said. “Our actions and the actions of other governmental folks probably continue to improve and allow the citizens to maybe make better decisions and be more proactive.”

In a press release Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents to take this storm very seriously and not underestimate its effects even if they were able to ride out previous storms like Hurricane Matthew. 

“The waves and wind in this storm may be like nothing you have ever seen,” Cooper said. “Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don't bet your life on riding out this monster.”


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