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Horrific rains and ocean surge: Hurricane Matthew by the numbers

From Haiti to North Carolina, Hurricane Matthew left a trail of devastation. In the Southeast, staggering quantities of rain and the resulting flooding induced the greatest damage, while storm surge and violent winds also wreaked havoc.

According to USA Today, the storm has generated at least $6 billion in damages in the United States, making it the most expensive storm since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.


An incredible amount of rain fell during Hurricane Matthew – even by hurricane standards.

The following numbers help illustrate the potency of this extreme weather event and its far-reaching effects.


In the United States, record-setting amounts of rain have inflicted the greatest amount of hardship, with the Tarheel state at ground zero.

15 inches of rain in eastern North Carolina has resulted in catastrophic inundation.

Emergency officials have conducted 2,000 rescues of people stranded in high water in North Carolina alone. Nearly half of the state’s 100 counties were in a state of emergency, and 52 shelters housed more than 4,300 displaced people.

Lumber River in North Carolina reached a record 24 feet above its usual level, while the Tar River at Rocky Mount crested seven feet above flood stage.


The height of the Lumbar River in downtown Lumber, NC, rose to 21.87 feet on Monday morning. THe old record height was 18.3 feet. / National Weather Service

More than 10 inches of rain affected locations in four states.

Select totals:

Georgia: Savannah, 17.49 inches

North Carolina: Fayetteville, 14.82 inches; Lumberton, 10.38 inches; Rocky Mount 10.37 inches

South Carolina: Hilton Head, 11.0 inches; Charleston, 10.47 inches; North Myrtle Beach, 5.67 inches

Virginia: Virginia Beach, 12.16 inches; Suffolk: 11.24, inches; Norfolk, 10.05 inches

Delaware: Seaford, 3.13 inches

Maryland: Berlin, 5.52 inches; Ocean City, 4.17 inches

Florida: Sanford/Orlando, 7.89 inches;

Six locations had their highest single day rainfall on record during the storm:

Beaufort, S.C.: 11.44 inches of rain on Oct. 8

Walterboro, S.C.: 9.99 inches on Oct. 8

Florence, S.C.: 11.74 inches on Oct. 8

Fayetteville, N.C.: 14 inches on Oct. 8

Raleigh, N.C.: 6.45 inches on Oct. 8

Tarboro, N.C.: 9.5 inches on Oct. 9 (tied for greatest)

The amount of atmospheric moisture set records in at least two locations, as indicated by total precipitable water (the integrated amount of water in a column of air from cloud to ground): Jacksonville, Fla.: 2.93 inches, and Charleston, S.C.: 2.85 inches

The amount of rain that fell in the Southeast was equivalent to 13.6 trillion gallons of water, a volume equivalent to 75 percent of the Chesapeake Bay.

Storm surge

Matthew’s massive circulation pushed huge amounts of ocean water over what is normally dry land. This storm surge flooded roads, homes and businesses along the coast.

The highest recorded storm surge was 7.8 feet above the ground in Fort Pulaski, Ga., near Savannah.

Weather Underground reported three tide gauges in the Southeast set records for highest water level: Fort Pulaski, Wilmington, N.C. and Mayport, Fla.


When Matthew was in the vicinity of Florida, and at its strongest, its most ferocious winds stayed over the ocean – sparing the coast from even greater devastation. Still, as the storm hugged the Florida coast and then tracked northward making landfall in North Carolina, it walloped shoreline locations with hurricane-force gusts.

Port Canaveral, Fla., observed the highest observed gust in the United States of 107 mph.

Five states clocked hurricane-force wind gustsandsix states clocked tropical-storm force gusts.

Some select reports:

Florida: Port Canaveral, 107 mph; Daytona Beach, 91 mph; Flagler Beach, 83 mph; St. Augustine, 76 mph

Georgia: Tybee Island, 96 mph; Fort Pulaski, 79 mph

South Carolina: Winyah Bay Light 103 mph, Hilton Head, 88 mph; Beaufort 83 mph; Myrtle Beach, 74 mph; North Charleston, 69 mph

North Carolina: Jennette’s Pier, 95 mph; Pamlico Sound, 87 mph; Duck, 83 mph; Hatteras, 82 mph; Wilmington, 70 mph.

Virginia: Virginia Beach, 87 mph; Cape Henry, 78 mph

Maryland: Ocean City, 49 mph

Damaging winds caused power outages affecting over 3 million people, including: 1 million residents in Florida, 800,000 residents in South Carolina, 760,000 residents in North Carolina, about 276,000 residents in Georgia and about 227,000 in Southeast Virginia.

Disaster in Haiti

While Matthew has claimed lives and resulted in costly damages in the United States, its toll here pales in comparison to the catastrophic effect in Haiti, which endured a direct hit when the hurricane was classified as a Category 4 storm.

The death toll is in the hundreds and likely to rise.

1.4 million people require assistance, and 175,000 people were in shelters on Monday.

Storm intensity records

According to Capital Weather Gang hurricane specialist Phil Klotzbach, Matthew established the following five records:

  • Attained Category 5 at lowest latitude on record
  • Maintained Category 4 to 5 intensity for longest duration on record in the eastern Caribbean
  • Generated the most accumulated cyclone emerge in the eastern Caribbean on record
  • Maintained major hurricane strength (Category 3 or higher) for 7.25 days, the longest time after Sept. 25
  • Only major hurricane to make landfall in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas

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