Monday, September 01, 2008

Another storm beginning with H




Long time South Carolinians remember where they were on the night of September 22nd, 1989. That was the night Hurricane Hugo slammed into the South Carolina coast.

Though Hugo was a terrible storm that caused damage from the coast to Rock Hill and all points in between, it hit at a location (north of the Isle of Palms, just south of Mcclellanville) in which the most damaging northwest quadrant flooding was limited to unpopulated areas that were relative higher in elevation than the rest of the low country.

Do not misunderstand me. Hugo packed a powerful punch and it hit South Carolina hard. However, in some ways South Carolina was spared even more damage because of where Hugo actually hit.

Now, nearly twenty years later, South Carolina faces a strike from a storm named Hanna. If the tracks from the National Weather Service and other websites are correct, Hanna will hit somewhere near the mouth of the Savannah River.

For the low country of South Carolina, a hurricane hitting that area is the worst case scenario. The strongest part of the storm found in the northwestern quadrant will pound the lowest of elevations along the low country coast.

Some experts muse that the scenes from Katrina in New Orleans would be easily repeated if a strong hurricane hit just south of Charleston. If Hanna is strong, places like Hilton Head, Beaufort and the communities developed around them would be devastated. Models show that flooding would be incredible.

Now, the forecast for Hanna is several days out, and there is really no way of knowing whether the storm will hit the low country or strengthen or weaken. But, as the national media spotlight shifts to another storm hitting Louisiana, perhaps those of us in South Carolina should pause and take a moment to see what is going on with Hanna and make ourselves prepared.

By the end of the week, Hanna just might be the big story the media is chasing. Stay aware and safe.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Brian,
    I totally agree about Hugo and Hannah...something about those H's! Be safe SC!

    Becky from O'burg

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  2. "it hit at a location (north of the Isle of Palms, just south of Mcclellanville) in which the most damaging northwest quadrant flooding was limited to unpopulated areas that were relative higher in elevation than the rest of the low country"

    In the case of Hugo, the area to the northeast was much worse, because the storm occurred at the same time as the autumnal equinox (super high tide) and that coastal area (like most of SC) is only a few feet above sea-level.

    I'm not sure unpopulated would have been the word I would have used to describe McClellanville and Awendaw, since people do live there, perhaps "less populated" would have been more accurate. It is true that if Hugo had struck a one or two hundred miles south, that damages may have exceeded that of many of the more recent gulf hurricanes.

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