Researchers predict high chance of hurricane hitting our coast

Hurricane prediction

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - High hurricane activity could be hitting our shores this season, according to researchers with Colorado State University.

The University released their predictions, saying this year could be above average with 18 named storms. Nine of those are predicted to be hurricanes.

The study takes into account the warmer than usual waters in the Atlantic Ocean combined with low activity of El Nino. Researchers believe there is a 72 percent chance a hurricane will make landfall on the coast. The average over the last century was 52 percent.

However, Emergency Management in Horry County says it is important to not get caught up in the numbers and to pay attention to planning instead.

"We have a chance every year of getting impacted, and forecasts are just predictions," explains Randy Webster with the Horry County Emergency Management.

Webster explains the farther away a forecast, the less accurate it is. Which is why his team continuously monitors storm conditions, to keep the public up to date on any imposing dangers.

"Don't get caught up in the numbers. People can get complacent or overcome with fear. It's neither one. We need people to take a rational approach to a storm, which is being prepared," says Webster.

He says the last mandatory evacuation was in 2004, almost a decade ago.

"There have been a lot of changes in our area since then. There have been a lot of people move here, a lot of new buildings, and now, new zones," he says.

'Know Your Zone' began last year, educating the public on changes for evacuation zones. Zone C, which includes Forestbrook, is one of those new evacuation zones. Some people who live and work in the area are glad to see the change.

"After Hurricane Hugo...we lost electricity, there was no refrigeration. The damage in Forestbrook was worse than in Myrtle Beach," says Kimberly Willis-Smith. She lived closer to the ocean during Hurricane Hugo, but rode out the storm in the Forestbrook area.

Willis-Smith says severe storms aren't something you want to think about, but something you need to think about.

"Right now in my garage, I have precut plywood. They're numbered with which one goes in which windows," she says.

Emergency Management says it's never too early to start planning. Last year, the first named storms developed off the coast in May.

"It isn't unusual for tropical storms to develop as early as late-April," says Webster.

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