Hurricane Fran made landfall just north of the South Carolina-North Carolina border on September 6, 1996. This same region of the coast was struck only months earlier by Hurricane Bertha. As a category 3 storm at the time of landfall, Fran was the second major hurricane to strike the U.S. during the 1996 Atlantic season. Hurricane force wind gusts were felt up to 230 km inland causing significant damage outside the immediate coastal area. The total direct and indirect death toll from Fran was 34. Most of the deaths were caused by flash flooding in the Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania resulting from rainfall totals up to 10 inches. Total U.S. damage estimates of $3.2 billion rank Fran as the third costliest hurricane to strike the U.S. Evacuation totals of the coastal residents and tourists reached close to a half-million.
As a category 3 hurricane, Fran had a large impact on the turbidity of the coastal waters as seen in the after image. The largest affected areas lie to the right of Fran's track in the Onslow Bay and Pamlico Sound, North Carolina regions with the highest absolute reflectance values just offshore of Cape Fear and Cape Lookout, North Carolina. The difference image reveals that some of the largest before-to-after changes are associated with the points of capes. The capes are often associated with shallow offshore shoals which suggests that a large amount of bottom sediment resuspension occurred. Some signal may also be due to sediment erosion from beaches since one would also expect the largest waves in these cape regions.
An overall cooling is apparent in the difference image following the passage of Fran. In the after image a very noticeable cool eddy is evident beneath Fran's ground track near the western edge of the Gulf Stream. This eddy lasted for several days.