Busy 2012 hurricane season comes to an end

November 30 marks the end of the 2012 hurricane season and it's been a busy one. Though no storms hit South Carolina, meteorologists say it's been among the most active seasons on record.

Local emergency management officials say there's a lot we can learn from this season.

Superstorm Sandy killed 125 people and caused more than $60 billion in damage in the Northeast. And Sandy wasn't even a category one storm, which Horry County emergency management deputy director Carissa Medeiros says just confirms what officials often say.

"If it has 15 feet of storm surge coming with it, do you really care about the intensity of the storm?" Medeiros asked. "We're talking about personal safety, personal preparedness. Don't concentrate on that number anymore. It's not about the category."

Medeiros says because Sandy wasn't officially a hurricane, too many people in the path of the storm didn't take Sandy seriously, putting emergency officials in a difficult spot.

"They have to go back into those storm surge areas and evacuate people and put first responders in harm's way many times, and so I think that's a great lesson for us in trying to get the word out to our public."

Officials say 2012 was a busy year, the third consecutive year with 19 named storms. Since 1851, only two seasons have been busier.

Medeiros says the fact that none of those storms struck our area this year doesn't change a thing for us.

"We really need to look at every year as being a high risk year, being a year that we could get 19, 20. It doesn't matter the number, it just matters the one that we need to be prepared for," Medeiros said.

So if the category of hurricane doesn't matter and the number of storms per season doesn't matter, Medeiros says what does matter is storm surge, that wall of water that causes most of the damage from hurricanes, which is why emergency officials want people to "Know Your Zone": find out if you live in a high risk area for storm surge, and if you do, be prepared.