The following table breaks down the types of tropical cyclone events in North Carolina. Direct landfalling storms are only those that directly strike North Carolina's coast. Storms affecting North Carolina include all tropical cyclones that have had an impact on the state but did not make direct landfall. Total storms affecting North Carolina include all tropical cyclones that have somehow affected the state.
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North Carolina Tropical Cyclone Statistics (1851 - 2012)
Non-landfalling Storms Affecting NC Within 150 Miles
Total Storms Affecting NC
Number of Storms
Percentage of Storms
Average Years Between Storms
Average Storms Per Year
The following two graphs break down tropical cyclone climatology. The left graph shows the total number of days the state has been impacted by tropical systems on a weekly basis. This data shows the annual distribution of tropical systems affecting North Carolina, with the maximum activity in the first week of September. However, note the early season (June and July) activity in North Carolina. The early season activity is not favored across the Atlantic, but is instead specific to the southeastern United States due to the warm Gulf Stream off the coast.
The right graph shows the trend of tropical systems affecting by decade. This chart shows the variability in tropical system numbers since the beginning of records in 1851. The first trend to notice is the natural up and down cycles marking extremely active decades versus tamer decades. Another trend to notice is the apparent overall upward trend in storm numbers. The overall upward trend, especially in the 1990s and 2000s is due to improvements in observational tools - especially satellites - and analysis techniques by the National Hurricane Center. A recent study by the Hurricane Center has shown that the higher numbers are attributable to better detection of short-lived systems and likely not the effect of greenhouse warming climate change.
Total Storm Days by Week for NC Within 150 Miles (1851 - 2012)
Total Storms Affecting NC by Decade Within 150 Miles (1851 - 2012)