With a weakening El Niño transitioning into a La Niña, the ingredients needed for tropical storms or hurricanes to form will likely become more favorable. The presence of an El Niño during hurricane season normally cuts down on tropical activity thanks to warmer Pacific waters and wind shear coming from the Pacific. The presence of a la Niña doesn't create more storms, but allows more storms to strengthen thanks to a cooler Pacific water temperatures and less wind shear.
This doesn't mean that we are definitely going to see a major land-falling hurricane this year, but it does mean we have to pay a little bit more attention. Pfaff says that South Carolina is impacted by a major hurricane once every 18 years, on average. The last major hurricane we had was Hurricane Hugo in 1989 - 27 years ago.
Pfaff has some concerns based on that fact. "We're beyond due with respect to a land-falling major hurricane in the Carolinas," he said.
Horry County Emergency Manager Randy Webster said the county's main goal as a storm approaches is to get information out to the public. Most of the people that now live here have never experienced a tropical system. The information will be put out, but it's up to the community to listen and prepare, especially with the growth that we've seen recently.
Webster explained, "All of this development has happened. One storm could wipe a lot of that out. After a major disaster like that there will be a new normal. And we don't know what, but it'll be up to the community to come together to make that happen."
Self explained: "You could imagine if you had the type of development along the Grand Strand in the 50s that you do now - that just would've been a tremendous disaster, a catastrophe!"
We can break down the numbers that other companies and universities put out on how many systems may form this season, but in reality, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you are prepared, and one reason that you always need to be prepared is that it only takes one storm.