2019 was another year of above-average hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean and will be marked as the fourth-most active hurricane season on record.
There were 18 named storms and 20 total storms. Four storms made landfall in the U.S. Hurricane Barry hit Louisiana’s coast as a Category 1 hurricane July 13, Imelda hit near Freeport, Texas, on Sept. 17 as a tropical storm; Nestor made landfall near St. Vincent Island on Florida’s Panhandle as a post-tropical cyclone Oct. 19 and Hurricane Dorian reached Category 5 strength, lingering over Grand Bahama island for 36 hours. The strongest storm of the season arrived at Cape Hatteras on Sept. 6 with Category 1 winds.
Dorian left the Bahamas with historic damage that will likely take years to repair. In N.C., Ocracoke Island was devastated by the storm. Eastern N.C. was still recovering from 2018’s Hurricane Florence when Dorian struck Ocracoke.
The island — accessible only by water or air — was under evacuation orders before Dorian landed. Ocracoke wasn’t re-opened to visitors until Dec. 2. The island is likely to feel the effects into the 2020 summer and beyond. Rental cottages and motels took significant damage and some were completely destroyed by the wind and water stirred by Dorian. In a sign of resiliency by the island locals, several residents made homemade Christmas light displays. “Hurricane Dorian may have damaged our Holiday Lights signs, but not our Christmas cheer,” said Ocracoke Civic and Business Association Events coordinator Sara Teaster.