Will Hurricane Matthew create a real American Horror Story by slamming into Roanoke?

Hurricane Matthew closes in on North Carolina and the island of Roanoke

Hurricane Matthew (Getty)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hurricane Matthew looks set to make landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina - and the setting of hit TV series American Horror Story could be in its sights.

Computer models have shown the hurricane to be on a path from Florida to North Carolina. At the moment it is a category 4 hurricane with winds at its core reaching 140 miles per hour.

Some experts expect the storm to move into the Cape Fear area and then the Outer Banks - a chain of islands which includes Roanoke, famous for the 'lost colony', a chilling story which has inspired the latest instalment of the uber-creepy American Horror Story series.

The colony consisted of a group of English settlers who came to Roanoke with the attention of setting up a permanent base, but seemingly disappeared without trace in 1590.

The colony had been founded in 1585 before the initial settlers returned home, ravaged by lack of food and attacks by the Indian population. A new group of 100 settlers was sent out to join the rump of 15 people who remained, but the problems persisted.

Governor John White went back to England to request help, but when he returned no one was there. Only one word was left carved into a wooden wall round the town: "Croatan."

Many theories have been put forward as to what happened to the colony. Some have suggested the colony integrated itself into the local Croatan Indian tribe, hence the carving on the perimeter fence. Others believe the carving was etched by panicked settlers hours before the Croatan entered the settlement and killed everyone in it.

Some even suggest that Roanoke was battered by a hurricane - just as it could be this week.

With such legend attached to the area, Roanoke attracts many tourists who come to discover more about the colony.

A family portrait imagining life on Roanoke Island, created for the 2008 production of Paul Green's The Lost Colony (Wikimedia)

Outdoor dramas telling the tale of the Lost Colony are commonplace, as well as a children's version of the story. There are also ghost tours on the island and kayak tours exploring the swamps, which have witnessed regular expeditions by archeologists, treasure-hunters and amateur sleuths keen to dredge up a clue to the Roanoke mystery.

A visit from Hurricane Matthew could cause huge disruption to this popular and lucrative industry - and damage the myriad historic buildings still dotted around the island.

There is, of course, no guarantee the hurricane will hit Roanoke. Indeed the projected path of the hurricane, which traces an north-eastern arc over Cape Fear before it reaches the Outer Banks, suggests Matthew may curve eastwards before it reaches Roanoke at the northerly tip of the archipelago. Many experts are also predicting the hurricane will lose power as it heads along the US coast, so by the time it reaches the Outer Banks it may well be petering out.

The residents of Roanoke, one of America's most storied and troubled areas, will certainly be hoping so.