Hurricane Isabel, 2003

This powerful late-summer weather system provided excellent waves for the entire eastern seaboard, then made landfall over North Carolina's Outer Banks as a property-destroying Category Two hurricane. "Isabel," as surf journalist Terry Gibson wrote in the aftermath, illustrated "the ultimate paradox, the perverse excitement, of East Coast surfing—that the same hurricane that produces destruction, produces waves."

The National Weather Service gave the name "Isabel" to a westward-moving tropic...