See photos from the 2009 Friesen's 5K Run With the Canes. Photos by staff photojournalist John Rottet.
June 1, 1999
MANY HURRICANE DEATHS OCCUR INLAND, METEROLOGIST WARNS AS HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS
Residents of inland counties should take note that flooding after a hurricane can be deadly
By J. Andrew Curliss, staff writer
The hurricane season opens today with a dose of sobering news for the Triangle: People in inland counties - not on the nation's coastlines - are more likely to die when the big storms sweep ashore with winds, rain and heavy surf.
And for the most part, the killer isn't the wind. Or the ocean.
It's the flooded creeks, streams, rivers and lakes that swell up for days after a storm is long gone, said Joel Cline, a weather service meteorologist in Raleigh who once worked at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Cline and others have analyzed three decades of storm figures in advance of this year's tropical season, which begins today, peaks in September and ends Nov. 30.
Those figures show that 6 of every 10 people who died in hurricanes since 1970 were killed in inland counties. And of those, about 7 of every 10 died in flooding.
Experts see some success in the numbers, mostly in a steady decline of deaths attributed to "storm surge, " the wall of water pushed ashore by a hurricane's strong winds.
But they now see gaps in educating people of a hurricane’s consequences inland. Cline is scheduled to outline his figures today to state emergency management officials in Raleigh. Then, he'll begin a media blitz across the Triangle, Sandhills and Piedmont that he hopes will help to prevent any more inland deaths.
"We seem to know that it's not safe to go to the coast in a hurricane - the warnings for the most part are being heeded there," Cline said. "And so our thinking is changing. The killer used to be the storm surge. That was fact. But we need to turn our attention to inland areas. That's where our people are dying."
It's particularly important now because experts think the Americas may be on the threshold of a decades-long period of increased hurricanes - fueled by shifts in deep ocean currents, increased rainfall in Africa and warmer global temperatures.
Many are predicting 1999 will be an above-average year for the storms, with at least three severe hurricanes forming with winds greater than 110 mph. An average season has 10 tropical storms and six hurricanes, two of which are severe.
"It can be a worrisome thing, " said Jay Barnes, director of the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and author of "North Carolina's Hurricane History."
"There has been this lull for several decades in the frequency of hurricanes, and it's coincided just at the time that we've seen a tremendous amount of growth on the coast. There is a lot of property out here that is vulnerable."
But only the Old Farmer's Almanac ventures a guess of where - or when - such storms will make landfall. Mixed in with planting tables and "zodiac secrets, " the Almanac says a hurricane or tropical storm will threaten Georgia or the Carolinas from Sept. 27 to Sept. 30.
Still, cities across the state - not just on the coast - have been taking notice.
Since Hurricane Fran walloped much of the Triangle in 1996, officials in Raleigh, Durham and elsewhere have used grant money to buy up flood-prone houses and structures. More than half of the two dozen people killed in Fran died in inland counties, most because of fallen trees or in traffic accidents.
Cline said his figures cover all U.S. deaths, though North Carolina data are in line with the trend.
"People used to think, 'Hey, we're in Wake County. We're far from it. We're safe, ' " Cline said. "We don't want that type of thinking anymore. We want everyone to be particularly aware of the risks hurricanes bring, even in the Triangle."
He said North Carolinians should watch hurricanes that strike any U.S. coastline because many eventually affect parts of the state.
Cline said that anyone who lives near a body of water, no matter the size, or in a mobile home should evacuate to higher ground as any tropical storm approaches.
People should pay close attention to all flood warnings, and should not walk or drive near any creek, stream or river that has left its banks. Parents should keep an eye on children under age 13 - they are the single biggest group of people killed in hurricane flooding.
"A lot of times, people are just curious," Cline said. "They want to run down and look at the creek because it's as high as it's ever been. Well, I'd say that's plain stupid."
Aaron Ward had a look at the Hurricanes from the other side in last year's Stanley Cup playoffs.
A defenseman for the Boston Bruins, Ward believed the B's were good enough, strong enough to win the Cup. The Bruins were the top seeds in the Eastern Conference, only to be beaten by the Canes in the conference semifinals.
His impression of the Canes?
"Gritty," Ward said this week. "They were steadfast in the way they played the game. They were very, very smart. We didn't take them lightly."
Scott Walker has been in the NHL a long time but never had a season quite like last season.
The Canes' veteran forward broke his hand in a fight in a preseason game. He suffered a concussion that knocked him out a big chunk of games in the regular season.
During the Stanley Cup playoffs, it was learned Walker's wife, Julie, had cervical cancer. There was his punchout of Boston Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward, who is now back with the Canes. Then came his emotional Game 7 overtime goal that beat the Bruins.
Given all that, what about this season?
"I feel comfortable that I'm where I need to be," Walker said today after working out at the RecZone. "A great mindset, with all the things that went on in the playoffs last year and with my family. It put a great perspective on life."
Some of the Canes took to the ice today for a 75-minute session of "Camp Brind'Amour" at the RecZone.
Working out today: Rod Brind'Amour, Ray Whitney, Joe Corvo, Nic Wallin, Scott Walker, Aaron Ward, Sergei Samsonov, Chad LaRose and Tim Conboy.
Making a guest appearance: former Canes defenseman Sean Hill, who is in town visiting his wife's relatives and dropped by to skate.
The guys were a little rusty, a little winded, but that's to be expected. Walker and Ward also did some good-natured ribbing in the room after the workout.
The Hurricanes' recent moves — the re-signing of Tuomo Ruutu, the trade that dispatched Patrick Eaves and brought Aaron Ward back to Raleigh and the buyout of Frantisek Kaberle — put a fine polish on what the Hurricanes will look like next season.
There may be some tinkering here and there before the season starts, but as things stand now, the Hurricanes could go into training camp on target and under budget.
Those moves also offered a look at what the Hurricanes' roster will resemble in 2010-11, when a few big contracts expire, the cap is likely to decrease and a few prospects may be ready to jump to the NHL.
If there is anything Frantisek Kaberle and Tom Barrasso have in common, it was that they were both underestimated during their time with the Hurricanes.
Both were in the news Tuesday, Kaberle because the Hurricanes bought out his contract and Barrasso for his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Free agency in the NHL is a funny thing. Very little ends up being as it seems, reason goes out the window and even mild-mannered men like Montreal's Bob Gainey end up flinging money around like a Sex and the City character in a shoe store.
As far as the Hurricanes are concerned, it's funny how much can change overnight. When we went to bed Tuesday, general manager Jim Rutherford's last public statement indicated that Erik Cole was ticketed elsewhere and there was a chance Chad LaRose might return to the nest quickly after testing the market.
By the time the biscuits came out of the oven Wednesday, the door was open for Cole to return and LaRose had been bid farewell. So far, that's what has happened -- Cole signed for two years at an average of $2.9 million a year and LaRose remains a free agent, with Rutherford now dangling an impending signing in front of the fan base.
The only free-agent shopping the Hurricanes planned to do was in their own backyard, attempting to re-sign Erik Cole and Chad LaRose before they hit the open market. That didn't happen.
When the free-agent balloon goes up at noon today, both of those players will no longer be Hurricanes -- temporarily, and in the case of Cole, most likely permanently.
It will be four or five years before we know how the Carolina Hurricanes did in the draft last weekend, although they deserve credit for breaking new ground, by their standards, in terms of location (their first-round pick was from Quebec and three out of six picks were Europeans) and philosophy (all six were 6 feet or taller).
Whether first-round pick Philippe Paradis will be regarded as a steal or a bust is yet to be determined, but the record is already clear on many of the Hurricanes’ past drafts, at least those from 2005 and earlier.
We all know the misses — Igor Knyazev, Jeff Heerema, Nikos Tselios — but among the hits, here are the Canes’ five best draft picks since the team moved to North Carolina, not necessarily in overall talent, but in terms of how well they did with the pick.
Eric Staal, for example, was a relative no-brainer at No. 2 in 2003, but Cam Ward was not late in the first round a year earlier, which is why they bookend Tuesday’s Top Five: