The 2022 Atlantic Hurricane season has been quiet so far.
But with the season’s peak nearing, local emergency management officials and weather experts caution that the Grand Strand could still see some dangerous storms.
On Thursday, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion on hurricane preparedness at the Grand Strand campus of Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
Panelists included Assistant Horry County Administrator for Public Safety Randy Webster, WPDE Chief Meteorologist Ed Piotrowski and Horry County Schools Superintendent Rick Maxey.
The trio gave their thoughts on the recent hurricane season and took questions from those in attendance.
While the tropics remain quiet — there have been just three named storms so far — Webster said when it comes to preparing for a hurricane, every storm is different.
“There is no one hurricane that fits all,” Webster said. “Unfortunately, we live in an area where we’re going to have storms. We will get hurricane impacts to this area at some point in time.”
Thursday’s event also gave residents a chance to mingle with businesses and organizations that specialize in hurricane and disaster preparedness and recovery. Servpro, Carolina Cool, BELFOR Property Restoration the utility Santee Cooper were on hand to assist people with any questions they had.
One of those businesses was Palmetto Protection Films, a window-tinting company based in Myrtle Beach co-owned by Kristy and Matthew Yelle. One of the services their business offers is applying a security film on the inside of one’s windows. Should the glass break, the film holds the shattered pieces together and prevents it from penetrating inside the home.
Kristy Yelle said it’s a service that comes in handy during hurricane season.
“You have no idea what kind of debris is going to fly your way, you know?” she said.
Kristy Yelle said their security films are rated to withstand speeds up to 135 miles per hour, which is higher than the top sustained wind speeds for a category three hurricane.
She added the cost of the service varies on the size of the window and the type of film one choses. For a standard two pane window, the cost typically goes for $150.
“It’s definitely an affordable option,” she said.
Myrtle Beach City Councilman Phil Render was on hand for Thursday’s event and was pleased with the number of businesses represented.
“It’s indeed heartening to see the professional vendors we have at this event,” he said. “They afford a level of knowledge that the lay person simply does not have. And we in the City of Myrtle Beach and in Horry County appreciate their efforts toward that educational end.”
Horry County went through the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season unscathed and has set to see any major impacts from tropical systems since Isaias made its way through the area in early August 2020.
“Right now, the air is very dry across the Atlantic, so that has helped us keep tropical systems at bay,” Piotrowski said.
Despite a quiet season so far, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report on earlier this month predicting a 60% chance of an above-average season. The report also predicted the possibility of 14 to 20 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes. Three to five of those hurricanes are predicted to major ones (category three or higher).
NOAA’s report and Thursday’s panel discussion comes as hurricane season’s chronological peak date of Sept. 10 approaches.
Some of South Carolina’s most devastating tropical systems such as Florence, Matthew, Floyd, Hugo and Hazel all impacted the state after Sept. 10.
Piotrowski said this is the time of year where you must stay vigilant.
“The waters are warm. If the tropical waves find a pocket of moisture or a pocket of very light windshear, they can develop very rapidly,” Piotrowski said.
Should a hurricane make its way to the area, officials reminded residents to have a level head when it comes to planning and preparation.
“You got to keep your guard up as you’re preparing,” Piotrowski said, adding to keep that guard up in the aftermath. “There’s a lot of stress involved in cleaning up after a hurricane actually goes by.”
For now, Piotrowski said the tropics remain calm. But that could change in an instant.
As peak hurricane season approaches, Render urged community members to always be prepared, and, when the time comes, heed the warnings of the experts.
“It is a matter of life and death or could be,” he said. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
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