Track of Hurricane Fran.

Hurricane Fran, 1996

An Urban Search and Rescue team walks an island road damaged by Fran.

Dave Gatley, FEMA News Photo.

Fran may not have been the most powerful hurricane to strike North Carolina, but at the time, it was the costliest and the deadliest. Fran surpassed the destruction caused by Hurricane Hazel 40 year earlier and set a new benchmark for hurricanes in North Carolina.

In the aftermath of Fran, North Carolina experienced inland flooding, fallen trees, and severe beach erosion. Thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged. Billions of dollars were lost. All make Fran noteworthy, but it is the 24 North Carolinians who lost their lives that remind us that Fran was a serious storm.

Fran Statistics
Storm Type:
Cat. 3
Total Deaths:
NC Deaths:
Total Cost:
$8.1 billion
NC Landfall:
Cape Fear
NC Wind Speed:
115 mph
NC Storm Surge:
12 ft
NC Rainfall:
15 in
NC Pressure:
28.11 in
Fran Timeline
Aug 27 Tropical Storm Fran develops in the Atlantic Ocean.
Aug 29 Fran strengthens into a Category One hurricane.
Sept 05  
8:30 pm Fran's outer edges make landfall as a Category Three hurricane at Bald Head Island.
Midnight Fran's eye makes landfall at Cape Fear.
Sept 06  
2:00 am Fran begins to collapse and pours rain over Raleigh.
2:00 pm Fran weakens to a tropical depression over Virginia.
Sept 08 Fran becomes extratropical over Ontario, Canada
Sept 09 The Army Corps of Engineers releases water from Falls Lake.
Sept 10 Fran merges with weather over Maine and is no longer a distinct storm.
Sept 15 President Bill Clinton visits Raleigh and pledges federal aid.
Sept 17 The Neuse River in Kinston crests at 9.1 feet above flood stage.

All dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation as of 2009.