Letter: Atlantic hurricane season has warmed up

by | September 1, 2016 3:52 am

Last Updated: August 29, 2016 at 11:54 am

Tropical cyclone activity is increasing in the Atlantic, and we all need to stay prepared for whatever the peak of the 2016 hurricane season brings.
So far this year, the Atlantic has produced hurricanes and tropical storms. Two of those have affected South Carolina. Bonnie in late May generated rip currents and heavy rains that caused localized flooding and the closure of southbound lanes of Interstate 95 in Jasper County. The following week, Colin produced additional, but less intense, rainfall and effects.
What’s ahead? The official hurricane season began June 1 and continues through November. We have entered the busiest part of the season, from August through October. The three most iconic South Carolina hurricanes occurred in the months of September and October: Hurricane Hazel slammed into the state in October 1954; Gracie crashed into the coast in September 1959; and the infamous Hugo hit 27 years ago in September 1989. It takes only one direct-hit storm to create devastation, no matter how busy the rest of the season.
Consequently, we are encouraging South Carolinians to observe September as National Emergency Preparedness Month, so designated by the Department of Homeland Security. Have an emergency plan and test it, keep emergency supplies on hand, know evacuation routes, and understand that hurricanes have statewide effects, including the potential for damaging inland winds, tornadoes, and flooding.
This leads us to another notable, and more recent, anniversary. Severe weather during the first five days of October last year inundated some parts of the state with more than 26 inches of rain. Nineteen deaths were attributed to the weather, which washed away roads, bridges, vehicles, homes and earthen dams and left 30,000 people without power. Hundreds of citizens required rescue. This year, because heavy rains and potential inland flooding are closely related to hurricanes, we are asking citizens to review their emergency plans, keep in mind the life-threatening danger of driving or walking through flood waters, and refrain from travel if similar severe conditions occur again.
The preparations we make now can really pay off later. Please visit www.scemd.org for more information.

KIM STENSON
Director
South Carolina Emergency Management Division
Office of the Adjutant General
Columbia

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