Bertha - 7/16/96
Fran - 9/7/96
Bonnie - 8/28/98
Flight Airphotos: Click on the number next to any location on the map above
to view the photos for that location.
Hurricane Bonnie, a large Category 3 storm, made landfall on August 26, 1998 in almost the
same area as Bertha and Fran near Cape Fear, North Carolina. The large storm moved slowly
along the coastline, sparking concerns of widespread devastation similar to Hurricane Fran, also a
Category 3 storm.
Early assessments are that the damage from Bonnie was much less than
Fran and much closer to Bertha, a Category 2 storm, in spite of the slow forward speed
and large size of Bonnie. While much credit must go to North Carolina emergency personnel,
who learned valuable lessons from Fran, the lower damage to structures may have as much to
do with the geologic forces controlling erosion from the storm.
We were able to
fly the day after the storm left the Cape Fear area on Friday, August 28, as the tail end
of the storm was lingering over Cape Hatteras. The photo record of Hurricane Bonnie
presented here, coupled with previous aerial photographs from Hurricanes Fran and Bertha,
provide an assessment of how the three different hurricanes affected the same shoreline. Our
photo coverage is focused on Topsail Island, where evidence of overwashes is most
apparent. The undeveloped areas (such as location 11) are particularly important, as they reveal
the natural response as a basis for understanding erosive effects in the developed areas.