Hurricane Irene, August 22, 2011. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Do you get the feeling lately that Mother Nature is trying to get our attention?

First it was the world’s largest brood of 13-year cicadas, then this week an earthquake rattled bones and buildings along much of the east coast, and next? The first Atlantic hurricane of the season, Irene, is on her way to the North Carolina coast. I’m not superstitious. I’m just sayin’.

Well, hurricanes are something we know a little bit about. More importantly, we know a guy who knows a lot about them. Around this time each year we turn to our hurricane expert Jay Barnes, author of several books about the hurricane history of North Carolina and Florida, two coastal states that have a lot of vulnerable territory.

If you want to know more about what the hurricane pro knows, check out Jay’s FAQ sheet on our special Hurricane site. You can see Jay’s picks for other online resources, see  charts breaking down the most damaging storms in Florida’s hurricane history, and more, all at the Jay Barnes on Hurricanes site.

Hurricanes and other storms can have an especially significant impact on North Carolina’s barrier islands. The sands of the barrier islands are shifting every day, but according to Stanely Riggs, Dorothea V. Ames, Stephen J. Culver, and David J. Mallinson in The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast, “most shoreline erosion does not occur on a day-to-day basis, but rather as the result of individual storm events or a set of events over time.” This brand new book by four experts on coastal dynamics explores how extensive barrier island segments and their associated wetlands are in jeopardy. They give an urgent call to protect our coastal resources and preserve our thriving, but endangered, coastal economy. If you missed our previous interview with Stanley Riggs, go check it out.

For further reading:

The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis, and Vision for the Future
Florida’s Hurricane History, 2nd Edition
North Carolina’s Hurricane History, 3rd Edition
Faces from the Flood: Hurricane Floyd Remembered