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State officials warn of hurricane impact inland

RALEIGH (AP) — As the start of the hurricane season approaches, state officials reminded North Carolina residents that the storms don’t limit their damage to the coast and that even a smaller one can cause damage.

Gov. Pat McCrory discussed hurricane preparedness at a news conference Thursday with Kieran Shanahan, secretary of the state Department of Public Safety.

“No part of the state is immune from a hurricane’s impacts,” McCrory said. “Don’t mistakenly believe that this is just a coastal threat. These storms have the potential to devastate all parts of our state.”

As examples, he pointed to 2004, when Frances and Ivan tracked inland, bringing heavy rain and causing deadly landslides in the mountains.

Shanahan said residents should take all storms seriously, regardless of their size. He said Hurricane Irene, which struck the North Carolina coast in 2011 as a Category 1, caused some of the worst flooding that many counties near the coast had seen in nearly a century.

People tend to focus on the storm category, which refers to wind speed, and dismiss the threat for lower-level storms, Shanahan said. But storm surge and flooding often pose the biggest threats, he said.

Federal forecasters are calling for 13 to 20 named Atlantic storms, seven to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and three to six that become major hurricanes. A normal year has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major storms with winds over 110 mph.

Last year, Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, although it wasn’t a hurricane when it made landfall in New Jersey in October. Sandy caused damage in North Carolina, including closing N.C. Highway 12 along Hatteras Island.

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