Valdosta Daily Times

April 20, 2013

South Georgia prepares for hurricane season

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — For South Georgia, storms are a way of life, with thunder and lightning frequent occurrences. On a disaster scale, in addition to the threat of forest fires in drought conditions, the damage from hurricanes is of the greatest concern.

Uniquely situated between the Gulf and Atlanta regions, a hurricane and its ancillary storms can affect this region regardless of the path it takes. To ensure that the community remains vigilant, the Lowndes County Disaster Preparedness Center, completed in early 2010, is the centerpiece of planning for the area.

Ashley Tye, Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency director, oversees the emergency response efforts at the center, which would be activated in the event of a major catastrophe. Included in the planning and response teams are representatives from the city and county governments, department heads, electric companies, schools, and media organizations.

With the National Weather Service predicting an above average storm outlook for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, the region will have to stay on its toes.

The forecast released in early April calls for a total of 16 named storms, nine of which are expected to become hurricanes, including five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale), according to the Weather Channel.

The Weather Channel data show three Atlantic hurricane seasons in a row have had 19 storms. Only seven Atlantic seasons have had more hurricanes than last season’s 10

hurricanes. Among the four U.S. landfalls were the most intense tropical cyclone to make a U.S. landfall prior to June 1 (Tropical Storm Beryl), a soaking Tropical Storm Debby, a painfully slow Hurricane Isaac, and one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history, Superstorm Sandy. (Sandy became a “post-tropical” system shortly before landfall.)

Through Weather Services International scientists, the Weather Channel has been producing hurricane seasonal forecasts for the Atlantic Ocean since 2006, states Dr. Peter Neilley, vice president, Global Forecasting Services, on the website.  

“The forecasts are based on state-of-the-science techniques and inputs such as patterns of ocean temperatures in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Weather Channel forecasts have proven quite accurate and generally predict the number of storms within two each year.

“However, it is important to note that our forecasts are for the total number of storms that may occur anywhere within the Atlantic Ocean, and do not attempt to predict the number of storms that will make landfall in the U.S.,” Neilley states in the release.

However, an ounce of prevention is always the best measure against a pounding by one of these storms.

2013 Hurricane Storm Names