At Manteo forum, storm experts say not to take Category 1 hurricanes lightly

By on August 25, 2023

Hurricane Matthew was cited as a Category 1 storm that did significant damage. (File photo credit: Vibeke Lavan)

With the area on the cusp of peak storm season, Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson, Erik Heden, Local Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service, and Carl Barnes, Lead Meteorologist for the National Weather Service, held a local Hurricane Preparedness Forum at the Dare County Emergency Operations Center in Manteo on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

The forum also comes about two weeks after an update from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center that doubled the likelihood of an-above normal 203 Atlantic hurricane season from the 30% predicted in May to 60% now.

“The goal of this event was to educate residents, businesses, and anyone who attended on tropical events and anything they need to do to get ready,” Pearson told the Voice in an interview after the forum.

At the forum, the presenters explained that while tropical storms can occur anytime between May and November, the peak of the season lies around Sept. 10. The speakers informed attendees that the time to prepare is now.

According to the presentations, which featured graphs showing each hurricane by category in the area since 1842, the Category 1 storm has been the most commonly occurring, followed closely by Category 2 storms. A Category 1 is the least powerful level, characterized by 74-95 mph winds that will “produce some damage.” Category 5 is the most dangerous, with winds that could reach speeds of 157 mph or higher and cause “catastrophic damage.”

But Heden and Barnes urged attendees not to focus too much on the category ranking as it is based only on wind, without taking into account factors such as storm surge, heavy rains and flash flooding. Many people make the mistake of shrugging off a Category 1, but Heden demonstrated the impact of such a storm by showing a photo of a large boat that had floated into a yard and was left leaning against a building.

According to their presentation, Ophelia (2005), Irene (2011), Matthew (2016), Florence (2018) and TS Hermine (2016), which were all historic storms causing significant damage, were all Cat 1 hurricanes. Between 2010 and 2020, 185 deaths and $185 billion in damage were caused by Category 1 hurricanes in the U.S.

The experts explained that water accounts for 90% of direct hurricane deaths, mostly due to vehicle-related flooding, so he urged residents to assess their own risk using multiple factors. The first is to consider threats as it pertains to storm surge, flooding from heavy rain, strong winds, tornados, and rip currents.

Pearson broke it down into seven steps. Once the risk is assessed, he says it’s important to then develop an evacuation plan, assemble disaster supplies, secure an insurance check-up, strengthen your home, help your neighbors (Do you have neighbors with special needs?), and complete a written hurricane plan.

Pearson pointed out some local resources like OBXAlerts, which the public can sign up for at, and county wide emergency notifications by texting DAREEMERGENCYALERTS to 77295. You can also go on your mobile device and turn on government alerts in your settings to receive IPAWS alerts, FEMA’s national system for local alerting.

The presenters shared many risks that the public tends to downplay, including the post-impact period of the hurricane. They explained that this is a common misconception, with 50% of fatalities occurring after the storm is over—usually due to heart attacks, issues relating to loss of electricity, and accidents during cleanup. The older population is disproportionately affected during this period, with eight times as many victims over the age of 60 as those under 21.

River flooding can also last weeks to months after flooding, Heden noted, citing hurricane Matthew in 2016 which brought devastating flooding to much of N.C., with river levels peaking an entire week after the storm, closing many major roadways, and leaving businesses and residents inundated.

Perhaps the most overlooked risk regarding hurricanes, the presenters cautioned, are rip currents and dangerous surf, explaining that even distant hurricanes produce strong swells and dangerous rip currents.

An example of this was hurricane Lorenzo in 2019. After the hurricane had passed well out to sea, it sent powerful swells to the Carolinas, creating strong rip currents and dangerous surf conditions that resulted in a total of eight Lorenzo-related surf deaths on the East Coast, with four of those being in the Carolinas.


Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for Manns Harbor – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-8), Kitty Hawk – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-9), Manteo – Youth Center on January 09, 2024. Times to be given on via addendum #01. See the following SCOPE OF WORK: BP 100 – General Trades, BP 105 – Final Cleaning, BP 205 – Demolition, BP 390 – Turnkey Concrete, BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 500 – Turnkey Structural Steel & Misc. Steel, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 740 – Roofing, BP750 – Siding, BP 790 – Caulking/Sealants, BP 800 – Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware/Toilet Specialties/Accessories/Division 10, BP 840 – Curtainwall/Storefront/Glass/Glazing, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 960 – Resilient Flooring/Carpet/Base/Epoxy, BP 980 – Acoustical Ceilings, BP 990 – Painting and Wall Coverings, BP 1230 – Finish Carpentry and Casework, BP 1250 – Window Treatments, BP 2100 – Fire Protection, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical, BP 3100 – Earthwork/Turnkey Site, BP 3213- Site Concrete, BP 3290 – Landscaping. Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( after 12/04/2023.

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Dare EMS – Phase 2 Pre-Bid Conference

Time: Dec 6, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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  • Tim

    Mathew was a major rain event. Most everything west of the bypass was flooded and not one drop came from the ocean. We had no overwash in Nags Head to Duck, but we all had tons of rain and places that never have flooded did so then.

    Friday, Aug 25 @ 3:21 pm
  • Surf123

    It’s not as if these things sneak up on. The news channels blast out the warnings if imminent death and destruction as soon as one pops up and is headed towards land even if potential landfall is a week. All of this crying wolf has made the warnings just noise. It’s always amusing to hear people bragging they survived a hurricane when the reality is they survived one with mild winds and without flooding of any consequence. The last thing we need is these social media heroes here trying to live without connectivity when a road is taken out, supplies are short, power is gone, etc. the vast majority of people are not capable of taking care of themselves after a substantial disaster.

    Friday, Aug 25 @ 7:41 pm
  • Joan mcminn

    Hurricane Irene was a cat 1. Did major damage so telling people not to fear cat 1 storms is crazy

    Saturday, Aug 26 @ 10:19 am
  • 102

    I had major damage in my shop from Hurricane Irene. When it came up the sound in the Colington-Kill Devil Hills area it was barely a 1 but it came up the sound, anyone on the soundside got hurt if the home wasn’t 8′ off the ground. Anything below that was not and is not insurable unless you go to a company like LLoyds of London. The powers have cried wolf so many times in the 40 years I have been here it is amazing. Hatteras Island has been on the cutting edge of getting hit, look at the map. I guess the jist of this stop crying wolf every time a thunderstorm/ wind event may happen just leads people to believe that is the weather people covering there backsides to sell the ” Weather Channel” and Jim Can’t to sensationalize what is going to happen. Get back to forecasting the weather in a true fashion and more people will believe them.

    Saturday, Aug 26 @ 5:01 pm