Hurricane season expected to be active

Hurricane season officially begins Tuesday and all the signs point to a bad one. Forecasters predict an active season and state and local officials worry people here may not be ready for it.

Gov. Mark Sanford made his annual trip to coastal counties on the first day of hurricane season, to warn residents to be prepared. He said this year, the numbers don't look good and the state is overdue for a big one.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predict 23 named storms in the Atlantic this summer, with 14 becoming hurricanes and 7 of those turning into major storms, with winds of 110 miles per hour or more.

Those numbers have Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster worried.

"Obviously it's a forecast, we just don't know and no one is saying where one's going to hit. So we just know we all have to be prepared, but it's obvious that the numbers are against us this year," Webster said.

Sanford said, the law of averages is against South Carolina because it's been so long since a major hurricane hit the state.

"You look at the number of storms that have hit North Carolina, the number of storms that have hit Florida, the number of storms that hit the Gulf Coast, South Carolina has been exceedingly lucky for a long of number of years," Sanford said.

If South Carolina's luck runs out this year, Sanford said, the state's residents shouldn't worry that budget cuts will impact the state's response.

He said hurricane preparation is a first concern for agencies like the Highway Patrol and that includes moving troopers around.

"We pull people all the way out of Greenville coming down in evacuation scenarios, but it's something we're committed to because I think it's one of those absolute priorities here during hurricane season."

This year, the National Hurricane Center will issue watches and warnings 12 hours earlier than before when a hurricane threatens the coast. Watches will be issued 48 hours before landfall and warnings, 36 hours.

"It does give us a little extra time to get things moving and get prepared," Webster said.

He said the forecast accuracy has advanced to the point that the hurricane center has confidence it can predict a hurricane landfall earlier than before.

Related Links: Tropical Update page