New WRAL Documentary: Fran

A story told through archival material, 20 years later
Airs Thursday, September 1 at 7 p.m.

WRAL Documentary:  FranHurricane Fran struck the North Carolina coast on September 5, 1996. It was one of the costliest and deadliest hurricanes in our state’s history, reaching far inland with powerful winds and extensive flooding. WRAL’s new documentary, “Fran,” takes us back to that day through archival footage and interviews, 20 years later. The program, hosted by WRAL News anchor Bill Leslie, airs Thursday, September 1 at 7 p.m.

Hurricane Fran made landfall on the North Carolina coast near Wilmington as a Category 3 storm packing 115mph winds. Extensive damage was expected along the coast, but the amount of damage inland was not expected. People were not prepared for what happened. Eastern and central North Carolina had extensive flooding, tens of thousands of trees toppled, hundreds of thousands of people lost power, some for more than a week.

This documentary tells the story of Fran through archival material and remembrances from people who experienced the storm in Raleigh and at the coast. WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel discusses the forecast and what he learned from Fran. WRAL anchors and reporters take you back to that day and the devastating aftermath.

WRAL Documentary is one of the only dedicated documentary units in local TV. Its mission is to provide in-depth coverage of topics and issues relevant to North Carolinians


  • WRAL-TV/Raleigh – Thursday, September 1 at 7 p.m.
  • WILM-TV/Wilmington – Thursday, September 1 at 7 p.m.
  • WRAZ-TV/Durham – Saturday, September 3 at 6 p.m.

PREVIEW & BONUS MATERIAL: Go to or WRAL’s Roku, AppleTV or Amazon Fire apps now to watch a preview and see special bonus material. More than a dozen segments are available for viewing, including:

  • Highlights from WRAL’s original news coverage of Hurricane Fran in 1996
  • Greg Fishel discusses what he learned from Fran
  • David Crabtree and Debra Morgan recount reporting in the storm at the coast and in Raleigh

OTHER WAYS TO WATCH: Fran will be available for on-demand viewing at any time after the premiere television broadcast on September 1. You can also watch on WRAL’s Roku, Amazon Fire TV and AppleTV apps.

SOCIAL MEDIA: On twitter, follow @WRALdoc using #Fran20WRAL.

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Debbie Tullos for this capcom story & graphic.

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