August 2018

Hazel, Fran, Donna, Hugo and Floyd. Names of a group of childhood friends? Actually, they are the names of some of the worst hurricanes recorded in North Carolina’s history.

What Is a Hurricane?
The word hurricane comes from the Caribbean Indian word that means “big wind” or “storm god.” Webster’s Dictionary defines a hurricane as, “a tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes.” Hurricane winds rotate around a center of low atmospheric pressure and travel at a speed of 20-30 miles an hour. Looking at a map of the eastern United States, one can’t help but see that North Carolina has the eastern most coastline of the mid-Atlantic and southern states. That geography has almost proven to be a magnet for these powerful storms.

National Hurricane Center
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it wasn’t until 1953 that storms were named in an effort to improve communication about them and avoid confusion when more than one storm was being tracked. Initially, only female names were used; in 1979, both male and female names began to be used to identify hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. The names of hurricanes are created by the World Meteorological Organization. The list of male and female names for Atlantic hurricanes rotates every six years.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30. While it’s the winds that determine the category designation of a hurricane, it’s usually the water pushed into shore by the winds, known as storm surge, which inflicts the most damage.

North Carolina’s Hurricane History
With more than 3,000 miles of inland shoreline, North Carolina’s Coastal Plain is extremely susceptible to the storm surge. Growing up in eastern North Carolina, water was never very far away. I have vivid memories of North Carolina’s mid 20th century hurricanes. Located on a slight rise in the terrain, our home never experienced any water damage. Across the street, my uncle’s yard filled with the local dealership’s Chevrolets to protect them from potential flooding as Hurricane Hazel approached. Hazel lived up to the pre-arrival hype. The flood waters devastated the Coastal Plain. Watching the Marine amphibious ducks pass our house on their way to rescue people in neighboring communities is still a clear picture in my mind. For decades, Hurricane Hazel ranked as North Carolina’s worst hurricane in the 20th century.

Jay Barnes is North Carolina’s hurricane expert. His book, North Carolina’s Hurricane History, first appeared in print in 1995, and has been updated three times. Hurricanes have been recorded as part of the state’s history since the early 1750s. Although unnamed, these massive storms left lasting memories for those in its path. Hazel lost her number one spot as the all-time worst hurricane in North Carolina’s history in the 1990s. In 1996, when Fran made landfall, I was living in Raleigh. I remember moving my car to a neighbor’s house because there were numerous pine trees adjacent to my parking place in our townhouse community. Good call too, because I stayed up all night pacing from my front windows to the back ones as pine trees snapped in half by horrific winds roaring through the capital city. The morning of September 6, our neighborhood looked like a war zone – reminding me of the hurricanes of my childhood. Some Raleigh neighborhoods were without power for more than a week. For the first time in North Carolina’s history, a state of emergency was declared for all 100 counties because of the far-reaching damage.

Three years later, Fran would be eclipsed by Floyd – which now claims the record as North Carolina’s deadliest (claiming 52 lives) and costliest ($6 billion in losses and damages) hurricane. An almost unimaginable 4.2 million acres were covered with water in eastern NC.

And, it’s that time of year again. Hurricane activity in the Atlantic has been relatively quiet in 2018. Let’s hope it stays that way!

In Conclusion
I trust you’ve all had a delightful summer filled with fun, family and friends. School opening is just around the corner and visit NC concierge has some dynamic travel experiences planned for the fall. Scroll down to learn more and register online today to ensure your spot.


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North Carolina's State Symbols

Continuing our exploration of North Carolina’s state symbols, August seems the perfect time to learn more about our state shell. Shelling is an enjoyable pastime when visiting the coast. North Carolina was the first state to adopt an official state shell in 1965. The Scotch Bonnet was named because its color pattern resembles a Scottish plaid. Found along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Brazil, the Scotch Bonnet was first catalogued in 1778. It belongs to the same family of mollusks as snails and slugs, and is a rare find when shelling along the coast.

Roanoke Island and the Outer Banks Recap

Balancing the must-see interesting and historic sites – with hidden gems along the Inner & Outer Banks – captures the essence of this early June travel experience. The Lost Colony, the nation’s longest running outdoor drama, was the group’s favorite take-away. Enjoying dinner with the cast, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour prior to the performance, was a special treat. The guides at the Wrights Brothers Memorial and the Chicamacomica Life Saving Station were excellent. And our uncommon access tour of Spencer Yachts, the NC Shipyard and O’Neal’s Sea Harvest truly immersed us into the life and culture of North Carolina’s commercial and recreational watermen. We had a grand time (as you can tell by the photos below!)


Upcoming Trips to Ft. Bragg and Pinehurst
This September, join us for an unforgettable experience on the country’s largest military base. With scheduled visits to the 82nd Airborne Museum, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum, and the NC Military Business Center, this full day trip takes you from Ft. Bragg’s origins during WWI to its present-day status as an economic engine for the state. Learn more and sign up here.

And later in October, join us as we discovery the beauty and the history of Pinehurst. Our first stop is the Tufts Archives where the curator will introduce us to the businessman who started it all. With our guide, we'll meander this walkable village, designed by the renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, experiencing a slower pace and quaintness that have turned Pinehurst into the world-class resort destination it is today. Learn more and sign up here.

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What Our Guests are Saying About Us

"The trip to the North Carolina High Country provided an opportunity for us to learn about the Ben Long frescoes, Grandfather Mountain beauty, Elliott Daingerfield art and Eseeola Lodge’s history. Mary Esther’s planning and attention to detail provided us an incredible experience."

"I am a frequent traveler with Mary Esther and Visit NC Concierge. Each trip is well planned, very organized and provides experiences I could never create on my own. I highly recommend Visit NC Concierge if you seek to experience, learn and have all the planning done for you while visiting sites in North Carolina."

"Mary Esther is always available to answer any questions you may have and with great patience. She also is very willing to help solve any problem you may have. She is an excellent planner, director and tour guide. Her trips have been super!"

"Just a short note to tell you how much we enjoyed our curated trip to the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit yesterday. It was truly first class ... It was our first trip with you and certainly will not be our last."

"We were very well educated as to what we would be doing and what we needed to do to make it all happen. Everything flowed as expected."

"We loved the carriage tour through the historic district. The homes and buildings were beautiful. We loved everything we did and thought each stop was delightful. Exceeded expectations."

"What I appreciate is that you provide guests an opportunity to learn and experience a part of NC while you take care of all the logistics and details!"

Contact us to book your tour today! 
visit NC concierge is a premier hospitality company dedicated to providing the discriminating traveler unique experiences savoring North Carolina’s history, geography, and culture at a leisurely travel pace while enjoying the state’s finest sites, cuisine, and lodgings. Itineraries are subject to change at the discretion of the company. Group size: minimum 10; maximum 30. Registration for each tour closes 30 days prior to tour start date. For more information, visit us at
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