Hurricane preparedness always work in progress

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Hurricane season is more than five months away, but the forecast for next year's hurricane season is already getting some attention. Just last week William Gray with Colorado State University released his first hurricane forecast for 2011. The preliminary forecast calls for an active season of 17 named storms, including 9 hurricanes, with 5 of those being major hurricanes.

Thursday, the outlook for the coming year came up during a meeting hosted by Horry County's Emergency Management Division. Director Randy Webster mentioned that outlook and also reviewed this past hurricane season. Although there were a lot of tropical systems and several hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean in 2010, Webster said the Carolinas were lucky because weather patterns kept those storms away from the coast.

He also pointed out that the last time Horry County was notably affected by tropical weather was in September of 2008 during Tropical Storm Hanna. So he worries people will become complacent about warnings of possible storms, especially because the Carolina coast is statistically overdue for a Hurricane.

There is no danger of complacency within Emergency Management though, Webster said. Having some slow hurricane seasons recently has allowed Webster and his staff to more quickly upgrade some programs and be more aggressive with plans for training improvements.

"We're always pushing forward because it's not acceptable not to be ready," Webster said.

Emergency Management has also hosted annual training sessions at the county's Emergency Operations Center. That training involves everyone who would normally be in the Emergency Operations Center when it is activated, so that no matter how long it is been between real situations everyone is prepared for the next one.

"We take those opportunities now while it's easier," Webster said. "You're not under the gun. So when we are under the gun everybody knows what to do."

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