Coastal residents understand the dangers associated with hurricanes — heavy rainfall, high wind and storm surge can cause a host of problems. But did you know that the majority of hurricane-related deaths in the United States do not occur along the coast?
When these powerful storms move over land, they lose wind strength but continue to dump massive amounts of rain into streams, rivers and lakes — posing a serious threat of inland flooding. These floods account for more than 50 percent of hurricane-related deaths each year.
Hurricane Agnes in 1972 made landfall as a Cat 1 storm on the Florida panhandle and was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm. Unfortunately, Agnes collided with a low pressure system over the mid-Atlantic (which is the usual story with the big inland flooding cases) and heavy rains were the result. 122 people were killed in the floods that spread up and down the eastern US. Nearly 8 inches of rain fell in a short period of time across parts of West Virginia and total storm damages across several states topped $6 billion.