This year’s hurricane season may bring an unprecedented number of storms. At a Congressional briefing earlier this year, Greg Holland, Director of the Earth System Laboratory, reported that the season could wind with up to 25 storms. That would mark the most forecasted hurricane-level storms ever in the U.S.
Holland notes that with an increase in the number of storms the odds that one may hit South Carolina also increases. Holland says that the conditions behind this potentially active season are not due solely to natural variations in weather, but are also driven by global warming.
The hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends November 30.
Holland says hot, humid conditions signal conditions that are ripe for hurricane activity. He also says it’s impossible to predict from season to season where hurricanes are likely to strike. Existing weather patterns are similar to those of 2005, which brought the nation Hurricane Katrina and four other major hurricanes that struck land and resulted in nearly 4,000 deaths and $130 billion in damages.
Holland testified on the “Hurricanes and Oil Will Mix: Managing Risk Now” panel, saying that a hurricane striking the Gulf could be a good news, bad news situation. According to him, the Loop Current in the Gulf could carry the oil from the spill over into the Atlantic Seaboard, but that is highly unlikely he says. Gale force winds from a hurricane could whip the oil into small globules that would be easier for bacteria to break down. But, a hurricane could also push the oil further inland.
Holland says when a hurricane hits the Gulf, it normally creates an east to west wind, which would push the oil from the Mississippi/Louisiana region toward the Texas coast.