John Quagliariello, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, and Derrec Becker with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division discuss the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season and look back at previous storms with host Gavin Jackson.
- NOAA is forecasting a near-normal hurricane season with 9 to 15 named storms
- Hurricane Florence ranks behind the 2015 flood and Hurricane Matthew in cost, and Hurricane Hugo still ranks as the costliest storm in the state’s history
- Warming water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are contributing to more frequent hurricanes and more intense storms
NOAA is projecting a near-normal hurricane season for 2019 with nine to 15 named storms, but John Quagliariello, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, says even one storm can cause a lot of damage. “The thing we want to stress there, don’t focus on the number of storms. All it takes is one storm to make landfall here in South Carolina and we are going to have a lot of issues to deal with,” Quagliariello said. He points to the example of Hurricane Andrew from 1992, which was the only hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. that year, but caused major damage to Florida.
Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division says it’s important for the entire state to be prepared this hurricane season. “Be cognizant of that fact that even if you live in Greenville, you can still see some effects from a hurricane making landfall in South Carolina,” Becker said. Last year, Hurricane Florence caused an estimated $2 billion in damages to the state and historic rainfall across the state, including a record 23.63 inches in Loris. For much of the Lowcountry, this was the third 100-year rain event in four years, following the 2015 flood and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
South Carolina will be getting some aid to help recover from these recent storms. President Trump recently signed a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill. However, it is unknown how much money will be distributed to South Carolina at this time.
This year is the thirtieth anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, the costliest storm to ever hit South Carolina. While forecasting and emergency management have improved in the three decades since Hugo, both experts stress the importance of staying prepared and taking all storms seriously. “The one biggest concern I have for those that were here during Hugo is the misconception they survived Hugo. Our fear is in the future, people might say ‘Well, I survived Hugo and I’m ok.’ And that’s just not the case. You can’t really compare storms that way. We need people to be prepared all the time,” Quagliariello said.
Hurricane season is underway, and while it is too early to tell if a storm will hit South Carolina, it helps to start preparing. Hurricane Preparedness guides can be picked up at any Walgreens store in the state, as well as at any Welcome Center. Follow SCEMD and NWS on social media for updated information during hurricane season and check SCETV.org Weather for more hurricane coverage.