MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - When Hurricane Hugo hit our beaches in 1989, storm surges of ten feet hit Myrtle Beach. Down in Charleston, they were reported as high as 20 feet. In Garden City, 90 percent of the homes were reportedly lost because of the storm surge. While our coast hasn't seen those strong impacts since, as El Nino begins to phase out, some believe a strong hurricane season is in the works.
University studies on El Nino and La Nina's hurricane effects are mixed - some are expecting an average season and others are predicting more than usual. But it's important to remember no matter how active a season, it only takes one monster storm to make the season one to remember.
An average season is considered 12 named hurricanes, six hurricanes and two and a half major hurricanes. 2015 was a little less than average, so we're expecting more this year.
We can transition to a La Nina or El Nino phase at anytime, or just stay more neutral. But each phase can change the Gulfstream currents causing different weather patterns in different regions. For us, we had buckets of rain.
First Alert Chief Meteorologist Jamie Arnold explained what he thinks for us this season when it comes to hurricanes.
"When you have an El Nino condition in the Pacific Ocean, it tends to give us more windshear and drier air across the Atlantic Ocean. That tends to cut down on the amount of hurricanes that we see. We're transitioning now to a more La Nina, which is more of an opposite condition across the Pacific - that tends to favor at least slightly better conditions across the Atlantic Ocean for hurricane development," he says.
Even though hurricane season starts June 1, the season's highs are expected to be in early fall for us.
With millions of people visiting Myrtle Beach every summer, these hotels need to be ready to help those here on vacation. Policies don't change much when you compare those along the beach to those further inland. Employees go through hurricane prep training annually and before they start working. FEMA checks the hotels before they open. The structure of our local hotels also plays a role in protecting guests from potential hurricanes. Many are made of stucco, because that's one of the safest materials to stand up against strong storms.
Vinyl and wood don't hold up against hurricane winds at 100 miles per hour or more. Villas and rental homes, though, are typically vinyl or wood. One company that owns both a hotel and villas actually invites guests staying in their villas into the hotel during storms to keep them safe.
First Alert Meteorologist Jamie Arnold says no matter where you stay along the coast, it's important to know your hurricane plan.
"Whether the forecast is for a quiet year, whether the forecast is for an active year, each and every hurricane season as we're getting ready to get into it, we just need to prepare. And just need to be ready, know what your plan is, know your evacuation route, and know what you're going to do if we do take that direct hit - which is eventually going to happen," he says.