A warning of something dangerous, an oman of sorts, or perhaps simply a wandering spirit of a lost individual; we have the Gray Man of Hatteras Island. A mysterious figure that seems to stroll the beaches of the isle whenever there is a coming storm. Becoming a sort of beacon of warning for the island’s residents. This strange being has grown to be a local legend and commonplace within the region. Yet who or what the Gray Man is still remains a mystery to this day.
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Hurricanes are a part of life in this region of the United States. Every few years the east coast gets hit with one of these tremendous storms. The ones that you truly want to avoid, due to the damage it provides. The storms always eventually move on, but the loss of property or life is always frightening at that moment.
No location however, within the State of South Carolina, is more vulnerable to hurricanes and their destructive capability, than Cape Hatteras. Hatteras Island sits right on the edge of the Gulf Stream, which is a massive current of warm water that circles through the Atlantic. This current is so powerful that it actually shaped the island itself that Cape Hatteras sits at the edge of. The Gulf Stream is also a path that hurricanes in the Atlantic often take. Drawing their energy from the warm waters and allowing them to last longer. Unfortunately for Cape Hatteras, it sits right along that line and is why it’s so vulnerable to these storms.
But the island seems to have it’s own sort of defense mechanism. A spotter perhaps, and that is the Grey Man of Hatteras Island.
The Grey Man of Hatteras is an indistinct, shadowy figure who walks the beaches of Cape Hatteras as hurricanes approach. He appears as the first winds of the storm touch the island. Appearing whenever a hurricane is a true threat to the island and its inhabitants.
He never speaks, or at least no one has ever heard him speak. No one has ever gotten close enough. If anyone approaches the Grey Man, his form slowly fades into that of salty air. Completely vanishing before the curious onlooker can reach where he was standing.
But his presence alone is enough to warn the islanders. If he’s seen on a beach, know that the oncoming storm will be a bad one. He’s a warning that nature is still something to be taken seriously.
Who is the Grey Man? Some people say that he’s the ghost of a sailor from the island who died at sea in a hurricane. They say that he comes back to warn his fellow islanders of the danger, because his soul was so terrorized by his windy, watery end that he can’t bear to go on from this world while he can still prevent others from sharing his fate.
Some others will tell you that he never was a man, that he’s just a force of nature. That he’s not so much a ghost as he is a spirit. An expression of the force pushing the wind and waves towards the vulnerable island.
Even in today’s world, where we watch storms form from space, and fly airplanes to measure the winds; we still give each hurricane a name when it’s born. We may name them because some still think that anything so powerful and so willful must be alive. Maybe the Grey Man is just the hurricane itself talking to us. The voice of that living force born out of the deep ocean.
Whoever he was, the Grey Man of Hatteras still walks the beaches under the shadow of the tallest lighthouse. Setting a warning whenever a hurricane heads towards the island. Cape Hatteras has gone from being a lonely little island, to a crowded tourist beach. Yet the Grey Man still warns us of the coming storm.
So if you’re ever on Hatteras and you turn on the TV and they’re talking about a storm; stroll down the cloud-covered beach and look out towards the waves as the first rain begins to fall. Look for a shadowy figure, prowling the beach where the high waves hit the sand.
And if you see him, pack up and get off the island as quick as you can. This storm is going to be a big one.
Episode 36 – The Grey Man of Hatteras | A Hurricane Ghost. Produced by Shane Cummings; Audio Editing & Research by Shane Cummings.
Intro & Outro music “Creepy Regrets” by AnMo.