Timing of DNC also best time for major storms in Charlotte, records show

by: John Ahrens Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Federal forecasters expect nine to 15 named storms during the 2012 hurricane season. Despite a relatively low number, experts warn that it only takes one storm to do a lot of damage.

After studying the histories of hurricanes that impacted the Carolinas, the Severe Weather Center 9 team found a notable trend that could impact the Democratic National Convention.

The peak of hurricane season is usually around Sept. 10, but the peak activity in the Carolinas is the first week of September.

That week happens to coincide with the DNC this year.

Lewis Collins is concerned about what his trip to work in uptown Charlotte will be like in early September.

“It’s going to be a madhouse,” he said.

But he’s also concerned about a hurricane hitting the coast – or possibly further inland -- at the same time. Collins said he still remembers everything about 1989, the year Hurricane Hugo hit.

“I lived through Hugo and I don’t want to have another one,” he said.

However, records dating back to 1850 show nearly a dozen storms have hit the Charlotte area in early September.

That equates to one storm every 14 years.

The last storm to hit Charlotte in early September was Dennis in 1999.

Charlotte Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Dulin said the fire department will have a meteorologist from the National Weather Service on hand during the DNC. But he admits there is only so much planning they can do.

“We would convene a meeting with the Secret Service and the DNC and start throwing options on the table,” he said. “You really are flying by the seat of your pants in some of this.”

“All it takes is for a really fast-moving storm with high winds; that could really damage Charlotte and shut down Charlotte very easily,” Dulin added.

Emergency Management Director Wayne Broom said his agency is prepared for a disaster, even something as potentially damaging as a tropical storm.

“We don’t change the way we do business. Our disaster plan is in place,” he said.

The situation could be worse for South Carolina residents.

If a storm hits there during the DNC and the people there have to evacuate, there would not be any vacant hotels in the Charlotte area. Also, officers who normally respond to storms would be working at the convention.

The Democratic National Convention Committee said the president’s acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium will take place rain or shine.

They are working with the city and emergency management personnel on a contingency plan in the event of severe weather.