By Dave Williams for The Island Connection
The easiest way to look into the future is to take a gander at the past. The last two hurricane seasons in the Lowcountry, have been impacted by at least a few tropical systems, the most notable of those being Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017).
Matthew was a direct landfall in the Lowcountry and the first hurricane to make landfall in South Carolina since Gaston in 2004, 12 years is a substantial hurricane drought. Hurricane Matthew had significant impacts in South Carolina, but had no direct loss of human life in the Lowcountry. I attribute this to the fact that evacuation orders were issued early, and residents heeded the warning.
Thank you, from me!
I am often asked, “When should we evacuate?”
I always respond, when my family leaves, yours should too. Heather, my wife and Coco my dog left for Matthew, and they returned safely.
The center of Irma passed over 200 miles to the southwest of Charleston, but the bite was felt all around town.
Even though it was a Gulf of Mexico landfall for Irma, it sent a swell up the east coast of Florida and due to the coast of South Carolina being shaped like a catcher’s mitt, Charleston Harbor caught a 4.87’ storm surge.
I’m not a huge proponent of the preseason hurricane forecasts. They can create a false sense of hope, or conversely a bit of anxiety.
The last two seasons, regardless of the final numbers, were bad in the Lowcountry, because we felt the wrath of at least one tropical system each year. I always say, it only takes one.
The worst case scenario has not happened along the coast of South Carolina since 1989, and with the steady and rapid influx of population, a storm like Hugo could be even worse now.
That’s why the best strategy moving forward through hurricane season is to be prepared.
I would say first and foremost, if an evacuation order is issued, go. Also know where you might be headed and notify family or friends of your travel plans.
Do some simple pruning of trees, bushes and shrubs around your house; flying debris is a leading cause of damage to your property during a storm.
If you are going to stay, or it is a minor storm, major impacts can still be felt, especially if the power goes out. If you have a generator, that is great, but be sure to have fuel on hand to keep in running, gas stations may be out of power too. Have flashlights, fresh water, food and medication on hand for at least 3-5 days.
The Lowcountry is a very friendly and neighborly place to live, let’s keep it that way before, during and after a hurricane. Help others out if and when you can.
As far as this hurricane season, there has already been one named storm and more may be coming soon. You will want to look to the First Warning Weather Team to always keep you abreast of the latest information.