Horry County officials plan for busy hurricane season

For longtime South Carolina residents, the 2013 hurricane season might seem similar to a couple of past years and not in a good way.

Horry County emergency management officials told members of the county's Local Emergency Planning Committee Wednesday that climatological and atmospheric conditions for the season that begins June 1 will in many ways resemble those of past hurricane seasons that impacted the Grand Strand.

"There has been some comparison to a number of years and in particular of concern is 1996, when we had Fran and Bertha that year and then 2004, we had Charley," said emergency management director Randy Webster. "So, of those 2 years of kind of being looked at similarly, we did have some very close calls or direct impact."

Webster says the annual hurricane season forecast from Colorado State University meteorologist Dr. William Gray predicts 18 named storms in 2013, with nine of them becoming hurricanes. The forecast calls for four of those to become major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 storms, with winds of 110 miles per hour or higher.

Webster says the forecast doesn't change the way his department plans for the season.

"We take the approach it's going to happen this year and so we're always preparing for that particular scenario and we're always planning for it to be the worst-case scenario."

Webster says one goal of the department this year will be to work more closely with the Grand Strand business community in planning for hurricane season and in the recovery process, if a storm should hit the area.

"Part of our goal is to stabilize the disaster and get the economic engine running again," he said.