There is good news and bad news about the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season, which officially started June 1, 2018.
The good news is that most experts predict this season will not be as bad as last year’s. A total of 14 named storms are predicted this year with six of those storms projected to become hurricanes. In 2017 there were 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes, including six major hurricanes. The 2017 hurricane season was also the costliest season on record with at least $282.16 billion worth of damage reported.
The bad news is, well, it is hurricane season and it only takes one storm to cause catastrophic damage.
College of Charleston Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics Program coordinator Lee Lindner says when people think of hurricanes, they seem to fixate on wind speed. But strong winds are not the only dangers when it comes to hurricanes. In many cases it is the flooding associated with heavy rains and storm surges that causes the most damage.
Lindner says flooding is a major concern here in the Lowcountry. He says not only is the low elevation of the region and the issue of coastal tides a problem, but heavy development in the area is also causing challenges.
“More property is at risk of storm surge flooding as a result of construction on barrier islands and in low-lying inland areas,” says Lindner.
He says street flooding is a common problem in some areas and that is due, in part, to population growth in the region.
The faculty of the College’s meteorology program marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season by moving into their new facilities in the recently renovated Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center. Lindner says along with the new classrooms and research labs, the physics and astronomy department will also have a small studio for broadcast meteorology training and eventually develop a computational center for forecasting.
As for hurricane predictions, Lindner says we have gotten a lot better at predicting where a storm will hit.
“NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) now has a small plane that they fly ahead of the hurricane to get a better idea of atmospheric conditions,” he says. “This has resulted in improved modeling of hurricanes, and residents can expect forecasts to be more accurate.”
Despite all the advances in technology, Lindner warns there are still many uncertainties when it comes to forecasting hurricane landfalls. Lindner says the month of September is the “peak time” of the season.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30, 2018.