Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Weather


hurricun in Appalachia

hurricane noun
A variant forms harricane, harricun, herrycane.
1942 Hall Phonetics 42 [harik’n].
1 A severe windstorm.
1834 Crockett Narrative 150 In the morning we concluded to go on with the boat to where a great harricane crossed the river, and blowed all the timber down into it. 1966 DARE = a destructive wind that blows straight (Cherokee NC). 1969 GSMNP-38:135 A windstorm, we called it the young hurricane. 1982 Powers and Hannah Cataloochee 421 He said that he wished they’d come a herrycane and blow the cranberry bushes out of the ground. 1995 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell, Shields).
2 A growth of cane or other plant in an area where trees were appar leveled in the past by violent windstorm.
1834 Crockett Narrative 151 We cut out, and moved up to the harricane, where we stop’d for the night 1918 Combs Word-list South 34 = a thicket of cane or other underbrush. 1996 Montgomery Coll. (Adams, Cardwell, Ledford); = also refers to laurel thicket (Ellis).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Pap said the word hurricane like the noted variation harricun. I’ve heard other old timers say it like that too. A man I worked with back in the day in Haywood County NC said it that way and now that I think about it he was about the same age as Pap.

When The Deer Hunter and I were first married and still living with Pap and Granny harricun Opal screamed through our surrounding area.

With all the talk of hurricanes during the last few weeks the subject of Opal’s damage has come up more than once at work. One lady’s husband works for the electric company, she said Opal was a 500 pole event for Blue Ridge EMC. Pap’s power was off for several days after the storm and if I remember right it was in late September or early October.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked up the creek after Opal. The trees were just laid over in places like a giant pushed them as if they were weeds in his way. There wasn’t nothing to hurt up there, but down in the settlements a lot of trees fell on houses, cars, and of course power lines.


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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    While we’re talking about hurricanes don’t forget Hugo back in ’89. I was out in that thing. It came in near Charleston pointed straight for me. It was a major hurricane when it hit but eased back a little along about Columbia but was still gusting to 99 mph as it crossed over Charlotte. It kept coming but didn’t know what it was facing when it hit the Appalachians right here where I live. There was a brief tussle before it tucked its tail and snuck off up into Canada. You see, it had started in Africa and thought it could bully its way across the Atlantic and across the Southeastern US. It had its way until it encountered a structure that had been fending off its kind for millions of years. That’s just one of the reasons I am proud to be Appalachian.
    Look at a map of the track of Hugo. Right where it ceased to be a hurricane is where I live.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 11, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Yes, my kin used the term “hurricun”….My family being Scott/Irish and German/Scot/ Irish and somewhere in there or tother…Old English! ha
    Heard this joke when I was a kid…
    She said…”Get that ball that’s up and under the fence before the storm comes!”…
    He said, “Nope, I can’t, but “Harry can!” Ha….guess you got it…just a little kids joke, my Grandson loved it…ha
    If we can survive through 9/11…guess we’ll survive the harrycun, hurrycane, herrycaine,etc..,etc…ha
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….Never ever heard Laurel thicket called a “hurricane”. Only “Laure/Ivyl Hells”…Now if it was really “brambled up”, I’m guessing, when maybe grown and twisted together, mountain hunters huntin’ a dog might say…”Looks like a “harrycun” come though there! ha

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    September 11, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    We are starting to get the winds from the hurrican here at the bottom of Oglethorpe Mtn in Jasper, Ga. The power has been out and now back on but I fully expect it to go out again.
    I am very familiar with the word hurrican and it always makes me smile to hear someone say it although that is getting to be less and less as the older one are leaving us. I hope everyone stays safe through the storm!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    I was listening to Aud Brown at 11:30, Pastor of the Little Brasstown Baptist Church. Bless his heart, I don’t care much for his singing, but I enjoy hearing what he has to say. He told of a boy and his mama having a Bible discussion and it went something like this:
    “Mama, I’m sure glad to know the Lord is left-handed like me, just look at all the handiwork in His Creation, the Stars, the Moon and Sun and all.” At that moment his Mama interrupted and said “Son, how do you know He’s left-handed?” The little boy replied, “well, it says in the Bible that He did all this, while sitting on His right hand.” …Ken

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    September 11, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Hurricane Opal hit us on Tuesday before Fall Festival in 1995. The Folk School is on Murphy power and they got power back in a couple days. We spent the week cleaning up the campus, getting ready for the festival, but our power at home didn’t come back on until Sunday night.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 11, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I’m a hurricun- /her uh cun/ man. That’s a cross between a hurricane and a harricun.
    I was born and raised right next door to a hurricane. Just over the ridge to the north of Wiggins Creek is Hurricane Branch. I just checked the Swain County map to see if it is still called that and it is.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I wrote my daughters recently and told them about hurricane Opel. It came thru the Gulf and right up into Alabama before tearing down lots of trees in our Mountains. A couple days after it hit, I was up in the holler working on my water. What I saw would have made a mess in my drawers, because it had pulled huge trees out of the ground and threw in my trail above the reservoir. If I had seen it do that, I’d still be trembling. This was in ’95. …Ken

  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I just heard from a friend in the Orlando area. The rain has gone for the moment, but the winds remain at 40-60 mph. Haven’t heard from my friend in Daytona Beach yet. I was to begin my vacation this Friday in Daytona, looks like I’ll be postponing that for awhile.
    Be safe as you travel about the next two days 🙂

  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 9:13 am

    My favorite time of year to go on vacation is in September, before cold weather settles in and when the yard and garden work is not so demanding. We have been lucky as far as hurricanes go. There was only one year when a hurricane kept us from venturing too far away from the hotel. Thank God the timing was right when we arrived home from another country the day before the 9/11 tragedy. I pray the folks in Texas and Florida will find the help they need to recover from their loss.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    September 11, 2017 at 9:04 am

    We are further east from you, Tipper, but I don’t think any of us in this area know what to expect from this storm. It looks like we are going to see a good bit of rain and some winds. It is raining here in Brevard now. Georgia and South Carolina look like they will have tornado threats, which are scarier than hurricanes, I think.
    Word pronunciations in Appalachia can be quite different. I had heard harricun before when I was a kid in East Tennessee. my favorite is Cashiers, NC (pronounced “Cashers”, not like a cashier at the grocery). There is a tiny community called East LaPort that is just east of Sylva, NC, where my Dad was born and raised. Dad (living in East Tennessee at age 94) calls this “Eastly Port”, with the accent on the EAST. East LaPort was apparently a pretty active community in the turn of the 20th century when the timber industry was thriving there, but you can go through there now and not know that you passed through a community. My great-great-grandfather, Francis Posey (Frank) Allison, and both of his wives are buried there.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 11, 2017 at 8:30 am

    As best I recall, we said ‘hurry kun’ and used it to refer to anything fast and furious, such as ‘He come tearing through like a hurrykun.’ I suspect maybe old timers in Appalachia used the word to refer to small-scale tornado spinoffs that blew down trees. I know that on topographic maps within the mountains the placename ‘hurricane’ occurs, such as in Hurricane Branch. The age of such names is uncertain. They can be very old, back into the 1790’s or so, if a name ‘stuck’ without being changed. Or they might be contemporary with the first topo maps, or about 1920.
    It took a long time for me to realize it, but over a period of about 30 years one can hear of or experience nearly all of the natural catastrophes that happen in the southeastern US. By then, one figures out nature is rather restless and there is a lot of change.
    By the way, I never heard ‘hurricane’ applied to any kind of thicket, even a canebrake.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I was just discussing with my doc how fortunate we are in most of Appalachia to have mountains and hills to protect from most of Nature’s ravages. There is flooding, but many learn to choose where this would not be a problem. I lived in hurricane prone territory at one time, and Camille passed nearby. Even though it was not a direct hit, we endured the 100 mile an hour side winds.
    When I hear the preachers talk about the problem of fire, water, and wind in our nation being a part of end time prophecy it reminds me of how my Mother used to quiet my fears. She told me people talked about the end times even when her Mom was a little girl, and her Mother was born in 1898. I am sure some of our fellow Americans are suffering from this and will need prayers and a lot of volunteers.
    Those first grandchildren are about as special as you can get. I always enjoy when you keep us up to date on your family, and am amazed by all the talent in one family.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 8:10 am

    When I was growing up it was pronounced “hurr-i-cun” by everyone including national tv news. The British still use that pronunciation. I prefer the old pronunciation (saying cane for the last syllable grates on my ears).

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 11, 2017 at 6:45 am

    I’ve heard that Hurricun pronunciation, but not a lot. I’m hoping we don’t get too high winds, to tell the truth it kind of scares me. We are just at the end of this storm.

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