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Slow start? The Carolinas have dodged hurricane season so far. Why that could change

Chase Karacostas, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in News & Features

“And then it was about two storms a week, maybe two and a half storms a week. One week we had three — all into the end of September,” Rosencrans said. “So you can get very active years with these kind of lulls in them.”

An average season normally has roughly 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, according to the National Weather Service.

Rosencrans didn’t have any location-specific details in the hurricane season update for the Carolinas, as NOAA outlook can only detail the broader chances of hurricanes appearing anywhere in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, not their eventual locations or whether they will make landfall. That kind of information is typically available after a storm appears, with about a week’s worth of advance warning.

The Carolinas have had a relatively quiet couple of years for hurricanes and tropical storms. The 2021 hurricane season had few impacts on either state other than heavy rainfall causing isolated flooding. The 2020 season, one of the most active ever to the point that the National Hurricane Center had to start giving the storms names from the Greek alphabet, was the last time either state had any significant effects.

Part of the reason there have been fewer storms this year might be because the height of hurricane season typically runs from August to October, after the waters in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico have had time to warm up from the winter, according to the National Weather Service. Warm water gives storms the fuel they need to turn into hurricanes. The entirety of hurricane season runs from June to November.

Regardless of the hurricane activity so far this season, national forecasters encouraged caution in Thursday’s update.

“In recent years, we’ve seen the threats from hurricanes expand beyond damaging winds and dangerous storm surge to torrential rains and flooding threatening life and property far from the initial landfall locations,” Rosencrans said. “If you are in a region prone to inland flooding, stay tuned to the National Hurricane Center for the latest watches and warnings. And be sure to adhere to advice from your local emergency managers during a storm should evacuation be necessary in your area.”

Hurricanes can also present a “hidden danger” — even if they are far off — to those on the coast by creating dangerous surf on the sunny days most likely to attract beach-goers. In 2021, Hurricane Larry, for example, was hundreds of miles away but still created rip currents and dangerous waters for swimming along the coastline.


The NWS says it’s important to prepare for hurricane season before it arrives. Here are a few steps to start thinking about.

—Develop an evacuation plan.Think about issues such as: What roads are you going to take? How can you avoid traffic?

—Make your “go-kit” now. Potential items include spare car keys, a two-week supply of medication, cash (ATMs might not work), phone chargers, hand sanitizer, hygiene items (toilet paper, menstrual products, diapers), important documents, a battery-operated emergency radio, a flashlight, batteries and rain gear.

—Make a checklist.You’ll be stressed in the moment and don’t want to forget anything. Both the American Red Cross and the U.S. government’s have checklists and resources for getting prepared.

—Think about transportation.Will you need help? See what resources your local government or aid groups have for getting you out if the need arises.

—Don’t just dismiss the storm. If the authorities are saying to get out, then do. It’s easy to dismiss tropical weather for those who think they’ve “been through it before,” but the NWS and climatologists say the storms are getting worse and worse due to climate change. Don’t risk your life or your family.

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