NC Weather History: Helene Skirts Coast

It’s one of the closest brushes with disaster our state has ever seen.

From the State Climate Office, I’m Corey Davis, and this week in North Carolina weather history, we weigh the “what ifs” of Hurricane Helene from 1958.

On September 27, Helene approached the Carolina coast as a Category-4 hurricane, but we avoided a direct hit with help from an unlikely source. High pressure over the southeast that caused a late-September heat wave steered the storm back out to sea.

Helene’s eyewall still passed less than 10 miles from Cape Fear, and winds gusted to 135 mph in Wilmington. That knocked down trees and damaged homes along the southern coast, but in a sense, we got off easy.

A shift in the track even a dozen miles to the west could have meant another landfalling hurricane as bad as Hazel, just four years after that record-breaking storm.

With this week in weather history, I’m Corey Davis.