North Carolina scientists have been using computers to create digital hurricanes. The digital hurricanes are then programed to make landfall to see how they would effect our state. Although a variety of sizes and intensities were tested, a category five storm was left out of the mix. That is because the likelihood of seeing a storm that size is slight, according to Renaissance Computing Institute Senior Research Scientist Dr. Brian Blanton, who specializes in oceanography, storm surge modeling and coastal issues.
"It's rare anyway in the Gulf of Mexico but in the North Carolina and northward it's so rare that I'm not aware of any one that's made landfall as a category five storm." says Blanton.
Blanton and local scientists like Dr. Rich Luettich, who specializes in physical oceanography/shallow water processes at UNC Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. They create hundreds of fake hurricanes, because there aren't enough real ones that have occurred for them to study.
"Well we need to make hypothetical storms because again we don't have enough observed hurricanes, hurricanes that have actually occurred in the last 50-100 years, to really understand how any small change in those hurricanes might manifest itself in storm surge or wave damage in coastal North Carolina."
Scientists say, even though a category five hurricane is unlikely in eastern Carolina, simulations have shown that damage and surge could still be very significant with a number of hurricane scenarios.