Hurricane Hugo intensified on September 21, 1989 as the storm moved northwestward toward Charleston, South Carolina. Hugo made landfall just prior to midnight over Sullivan’s Island, north of Charleston, with winds estimated between 130 and 150 mph northeast of the storm's center. A reconnaissance aircraft measured the pressure at 27.58" when Hugo made landfall. Wind gusts up to 119 mph were recorded in downtown Charleston, with extensive damage along with low-lying flooding. Most buildings on the barrier islands northeast of Charleston were destroyed due to a storm surge of up to 20'. All bridges to the barrier islands were washed out. The Charleston airport, miles inland from the city, had an 84-mph wind gust, while Sumter, SC had a 106-mph gust. A storm survey team estimated that the swath that had 100 mph plus winds extended from Charleston northeastward about 50 miles up the coast. The band of 100 mph or greater winds pushed inland 5-8 miles before the friction of land broke the winds into shorter, but often just as powerful, gusts. The area that had wind gusts over 100 mph extended as far as Sumter, which is 80 miles inland. Damage was extreme in the areas which experienced sustained 100 mph winds and severe in areas where gusts hit 100 mph. Damage was much less severe south of the storm's center where top winds were just over 75 mph. Hugo was the strongest hurricane to landfall on the contintenal United State in two decades. Along the coast of South Carolina, Hugo set new records for storm surge heights along the US east coast, reaching 20.2 ft near McClellanville, SC. The surge and winds wrought extensive damage across South Carolina's barrier islands, destroying many beachfront homes and other coastal installations. Hugo's northward acceleration at landfall led to unusually large and significant impacts to forests between South Carolina and Virginia, inflicting further damage to property; in South Carolina alone the loss of timber was estimated at $1.04 billion. Flood and wind impacts followed Hugo across much of the eastern United States and into eastern Canada. The cleanup and recovery efforts that followed were extensive throughout the areas affected by Hugo. There were at least 39 fatalities during the post-storm recovery phase; more people died in South Carolina in the hurricane's aftermath than during its passage.
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