Hurricane Emily 1993

Preliminary Report
Hurricane Emily
22 August - 06 September 1993


Tropical Storm Arlene (TS)
Tropical Storm Bret (TS)
Tropical Storm Cindy (TS)
Tropical Storm Dennis (TS)
Hurricane Emily (3)
Hurricane Floyd (1)
Hurricane Gert (2)
Hurricane Harvey (1)

The eye wall of Emily, a category 3 hurricane, raked the Outer Banks of North Carolina on 31 August.


a. Synoptic History

Emily moved off the west coast of Africa and over the Cape Verde Islands on 17 August as a tropical wave. It took five days for the disturbance to develop enough of a circulation and convection to be classified as a tropical depression on the 22nd, while located 700 nautical miles east-northeast of Puerto Rico.

The depression moved toward the northwest for two days. It then encountered a weak steering current and became quasi-stationary on the 25th and 26th and began to intensify. A high pressure ridge built to the north and Emily, 900 nautical miles east of Florida, moved generally westward on the 27th and 28th.

Emily, under aircraft surveillance, reached tropical strorm strength on the 25th and briefly became a 75-mph hurricane on the 26th. Wind speeds fluctuated between 69 and 86 mph during the two-day period of westward motion. Intensification began in earnest on the 28th and there was a turn toward the northwest in response to the passage of a mid-latitude trough to the north.

Emily veered back toward the west-northwest on the 30th and then started a gradual turn toward the north. Intensification continued until late on the 31st when the hurricane was moving northward and the eye wall reached the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The hurricane reached its peak intensity late on the 31st as the center of the eye reached its point of closest approach to land... about 20 nautical miles east of Hatteras Island. Emily was large at this time with a 40 nautical mile inner diameter of the circualar wall cloud surrounding the center of the hurricane. This is based on Air Force Reserve Unit and NOAA reconnaissance as well as the Cape Hatteras radar. A portion of the western eye wall passed over Hatteras Island and the surrounding waters, with 1-minute surface winds estimated between 75 and 115 mph. This caused strong on-shore winds on the Pamlico Sound side of Hatteras Island and the accompanying storm surge coastal flooding was up to 10 feet above normal tide levels. The Atlantic coast maximum surge levels are estimated to be only 1 to 2 feet above normal.

For the record, Emily will be counted as a category 3 hit on the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale for Hyde and Dare Counties in North Carolina.

Emily was at the westernmost point of a re-curvature around the western periphery of a large high pressure area when it affected the Outer Banks and effects over land were minimal elsewhere. By 2 September, Emily had turned sharply toward the east in response to another mid-latitude trough and was weakening over colder North Atlantic water. It weakened to a tropical storm on the 3rd as it moved southward and stalled. By the 5th, Emily was a tropical depression and moving east-northeastward. Emily became extratropical on the 6th far out in the Atlantic and quickly dissipated.

b. Meteorological Statistics

The highest sustained wind measurement is 152 mph from an Air Force plane at 1729 UTC on the 31st, 16 nautical miles west of the center within a few hours of its point of closest approach to Hatteras Island. In all, there were 74 Air Force Reserve Unit and NOAA aircraft fixes of the tropical cyclone center during 7.5 days which is one fix every 2.4 hours.

The best track maximum wind speed is 115 mph for 12 hours beginning at 1800 UTC on the 31st. One hundred fifteen mph turns out to be a reduction to 76% of 152 mph, the 10-second aircraft wind at an altitude of 1500 feet. Diamond Shoals Light Tower is located about 15 nautical miles southeast of Cape Hatteras and its anemometer at 153 feet elevation measured a 2-minute wind speed of 99 mph at 2200 UTC and a peak 5-second gust of 147 mph, along with a lowest pressure of 964.5 mb, only 4.5 mb higher than the aircraft-measured minimum pressure of 960 mb at 2349 UTC.

The National Weather Service Office in Buxton recorded a peak 1-minute wind of 60 mph with a gust to 98 mph, but the measurement was disrupted just before the strongest winds are believed to have occurred. A private citizen in Buxton recorded 75 mph with a gust to 107 mph. Preliminary analysis at the Hurricane Research Division, NOAA, indicate surface wind speeds to as high as 115 mph over Pamlico Sound (private communication from Sam Houston). These strong on-shore winds drove flood waters over the Sound side of Hatteras Island.

1. Storm Surge Data

A storm surge flood height of 10.2 feet above sea level at Buxton is the highest reported value.

2. Rainfall Data

The maximum rainfall recorded was 7.5 inches at Buxton and very little was observed further west. Ocean City, Maryland reported 2.80 inches.

c. Casualty and Damage Statistics

There were 2 deaths attributed to Emily; 1 in North Carolina and 1 in Virginia.

A preliminary damage estimate for North Carolina is $35 Million, mainly on Hatteras Island. There were 553 dwellings deemed uninhabitable. About 160,000 persons were evacuated from the barrier islands of North Carolina, 750 persons from the Virginia coast, 100,000 from the Maryland coast, 1000 from Delaware and 20,000 from Fire Island, New York.

Maximum Intensity For Hurricane Emily
22 August - 06 September, 1993

Position Pressure
Wind Speed
Lat. (°N) Lon. (°W)
01/0000 35.6 74.9 960 115 Category 3 Hurricane