Fran unleashes fury on US

Hurricane Fran, shaping up to be the most devastating storm to hit the United States' eastern seaboard in four years, last night unleashed its fury against the coast of the Carolinas. US authorities are bracing themselves for a damages bill running into billions of dollars.

The one piece of good news was that the South Carolina city of Charleston, a jewel of the old South battered by hurricane Hugo in September 1989, seem- ed likely to avoid a direct hit. But although Fran was forecast to come ashore some 100 miles to the north, at the resort of Myrtle Beach, it appears to be scarcely less fearsome.

With its 130 mph winds, flooding rains and massive sea surge, Hugo killed 27 people, destroyed 17,000 homes and caused $8bn of damage - $2bn in Charleston alone. Of recent hurricanes, only Andrew, which devastated the southern tip of Florida in August 1992 to the tune of $20bn, was worse.

Fran, clocked at a maximum of 120mph, is slightly less powerful. But as the storm approached land, hurricane force winds of 75mph or more extended 145 miles from the eye of the storm. Forecasters predicted that areas 100 miles inland could suffer its full impact, as it continued its north- westerly path to the mainland.

Shores in Fran's path were all but deserted last night. Almost half a million people have been ordered to evacuate by South Carolina's Governor, David Beasley. Those who have chosen to stay have boarded up windows and doors, but even that may not be protection against an ocean surge that could send a 12ft wall of water crashing into coastal buildings.

Fran is but a symptom of a deeper worry among US climatologists , that global climate change may be increasing the number and intensity of Atlantic tropical cyclones.

A system qualifies for a name when the winds reach tropical storm strength of 37 mph; when they reach 75mph, it becomes a hurricane. Eleven storms have been forecast between June and October this year, eight developing into hurricanes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Hampshire

£25000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor