Sure, it's been slow. But historically the busiest time for storm activity is still to come.
WILMINGTON -- It's been a slow hurricane season so far for Southeastern North Carolina -- and the U.S. mainland in general. But here are five reasons why people shouldn't ignore the tropics as we head into the latter days of summer.
1. The worst is yet to come
While Wilmington has already seen two tropical storms pass by this year, the peak of the hurricane season is August through September.
"It has been relatively quiet this year, but we are still looking at having 10-16 named storms," said Mike Colby, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wilmington. Of those named storms headed towards Wilmington, Colby said statistically two to six of those storms could develop into hurricanes.
2. Our cold fronts help
Last fall the area saw heavy amounts of rain during hurricane season, but not many big named storms. Colby said the high number of cold fronts last year were a good thing as they have the ability to weaken hurricanes or keep them pushed away.
"The upper winds in those fronts and the rain, they can tear hurricanes apart," Colby said. "Hurricanes prefer upper winds to be less violent, they like calm conditions, so there could be some correlations between the cold fronts here and hurricanes."
3. Newcomers beware
Dan Kottlowski, lead hurricane forecaster for AccuWeather, noted that there has been a great influx of people to Southeastern North Carolina since the last major hurricane hit, so many of them could be uneducated about the importance of evacuations.
"Officials know when to tell people to leave, so pay close attention to emergency management people," he said. "It's not like they just willy-nilly ask people to evacuate. Officials take into consideration all kinds of things including the the cost to locals."
4. Wilmington is vulnerable
Miami and southern Florida are hit more often, but Kottlowski said the Wilmington area and coastal Carolina see more close calls.
"When you consider where the periphery of the storm hits but not the storm, (Wilmington) is one of the most active places," he said.
And for locals who experienced the last major hurricane a decade ago, Colby said complacency in locals could be dangerous.
People should keep their guards up as we head into the busiest part of the season, he said. Locals should have an evacuation plan and know evacuation routes.
5. The last major hits
The last major hurricanes to hit the area and leaving lasting impacts were more than a decade ago. Bertha made landfall July 12, 1996, with winds of more than 105 mph. It was the first major July hurricane in 70 years and caused $270 million in damage. It was only listed as a Category 2 storm, but caused 12 fatalities.
Hurricane Fran hit just months later in September. Listed as a Category 3 storm, it made landfall Sept. 5, 1996, and caused $4.16 billion in damage. There were 26 fatalities recorded. The worst hit area in the region was Topsail Island, where more than 300 homes were destroyed.
Three years later, Hurricane Floyd swamped much of eastern North Carolina in September 1999. The Category 2 storm blew ashore near the mouth of the Cape Fear, damaging hundreds of homes on Oak Island, Bald Head Island and New Hanover's beach towns with a storm surge that reached 15 feet in places.
Reporter Ashley Morris can be reached at 910-343-2096 or Ashley.Morris@StarNewsOnline.com.
Hurricane Incidence by State | WeatherDB