Wilmington is a port city in—and is the county seat of New Hanover County in coastal southeastern North Carolina, United States. The population is 112,067; according to the 2010 Census it is the eighth most populous city in the state. Wilmington is the principal city of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that includes New Hanover and Pender counties in southeastern North Carolina, which has a population of 263,429 as of the 2012 Census Estimate.
Wilmington was settled by European Americans along the Cape Fear River. Its historic downtown has a one-mile-long Riverwalk, originally developed as a tourist attraction, and in 2014 Wilmington’s riverfront was named the “Best American Riverfront” by USA Today. It is minutes away from nearby beaches. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Wilmington, North Carolina, as one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. City residents live between the river and the ocean, with four nearby beach communities: Fort Fisher, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach, all within half-hour drives from downtown Wilmington.
In 2003 the city was designated by the US Congress as a “Coast Guard City”. It is home port for the USCGC Diligence, a United States Coast Guard medium endurance cutter. The World War II battleship USS North Carolina is held as a war memorial. Located across from the downtown port area, the ship is open to public tours. Other attractions include the Cape Fear Museum, the Wilmington Hammerheads United Soccer Leagues soccer team. The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) provides a wide variety of programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and adult learners, in addition to cultural and sports events open to the community.
Wilmington is the home of EUE Screen Gems Studios, the largest domestic television and movie production facility outside of California. “Dream Stage 10,” the facility’s newest sound stage, is the third-largest in the US. It houses the largest special-effects water tank in North America. Since the studio’s opening in 1984, Wilmington has become a major center of American film and television production. Numerous movies in a range of genres and several television series, including Iron Man 3, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, One Tree Hill, and NBC’s Revolution, have been produced there.
- Winters are generally mild with January highs in the mid 50s °F (11–14 °C) and lows in the mid 30s °F (1–3 °C). Snowfall does not occur in most years, and when it does, is generally light.
- Spring is reasonably lengthy, beginning in late February and lasting to early May. The presence of abundant dense vegetation in the area causes significant pollen dusting in the springtime that tends to turn rooftops and cars yellow.
- Summer brings high humidity, with daily high temperatures usually ranging from the upper 80s to lower 90s °F (31–34 °C), and daily low temperatures usually from 70 to 75 °F. Heat indices can easily break the 100 °F (38 °C) mark, though the actual temperature does not in most years. Due to the proximity of warm Atlantic Ocean waters and prevailing tropical-system tracks, the Wilmington area is subject to hurricane or tropical storm activity, mostly from August to early October, with an average frequency of once every seven years. Such tropical systems can bring high winds and very heavy rains, sometimes 4 or more inches in a single tropical system. Precipitation in Wilmington occurs year round, but with April the driest month, with less than 3 inches of rain on average, and July to September the wettest months, with over 7 inches of rain each, on average. In an average year, the July to September period delivers about 40% of annual rainfall.
- Autumn is also generally humid at the beginning, with the threat from tropical weather systems (hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions) peaking in September. Some of the deciduous trees may lose their leaves; however most trees in the area are evergreens and therefore remain green year-round.