How Often Do Hurricanes Hit North Carolina and South Carolina?

Hurricane Matthew in New Bern, NC
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Since North and South Carolina lie on the eastern seaboard, they are affected by hurricanes—though both states are considerably less vulnerable than Florida. So, before you plan your next getaway to the Carolines, make sure to consider the Atlantic hurricane season by checking with local weather experts.

When Is Hurricane Season?

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 with the peak period from early August through the end of October. The Atlantic basin includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

What Does a Typical Hurricane Season Look Like?

Based on historical weather records dating back to 1950, the Atlantic region will typically experience 12 tropical storms with sustained winds of 39 mph, of which six turn into hurricanes with winds reaching 74 mph or greater, and three major hurricanes category 3 or higher with sustained winds of at least 111 mph. It's important to note that most of these hurricanes do not make landfall in the United States.

How Many Hurricanes Typically Hit North and South Carolina?

On average, one to two hurricanes (or more specifically, 1.75 hurricanes) make landfall on the U.S. East Coast every year. Of those, 16 percent have swept North Carolina and 11 percent have reached South Carolina. Since 1851, 47 hurricanes have made direct hits on North Carolina and 31 have landed in South Carolina.

There is little to no correlation between the total number of storms and those that make landfall in any given season. For example, 2010 was an extremely busy season, with 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes. Yet no hurricane and only one tropical storm made landfall in the U.S. that year.

What Does It Mean for My Vacation Plans?

Statistically, there is a very low risk that a storm will impact your vacation. Still, if you're planning to vacation in the Carolinas between June and October, you might want to consider buying hurricane insurance. Typically, if your trip is canceled or interrupted due to a storm, you can be refunded up to the limit of coverage. Note that in most cases, insurance must be purchased more than 24 hours before a hurricane is named. Also, most hotels and airlines will offer refunds or a rescheduled itinerary if a hurricane interrupts your planned vacation.

How Can I Stay on Top of Hurricane Warnings?

If you're traveling to a hurricane-prone destination, download the hurricane app from the American Red Cross for storm updates and a slew of helpful features. You can also follow weather updates from The Weather Channel, Accuweather, and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), among others.

Recap of Hurricane Season 2017

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was a wildly active and destructive season that ranked among the most ferocious since records began in 1851. There were a total of 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes. Worse yet, the season was relentless, with all 10 of the season's hurricanes occurring consecutively.