Maybe it won’t be as bad as last year — that’s the first read on the coming hurricane season by the leading private forecaster.
Phil Klotzbach of the Tropical Meteorology Project is calling for a slightly above average season with 14 named storms, or storms with winds stronger than 39 mph.
Seven of those would become hurricanes, with winds at 74 mph or stronger.
Three of those would become major hurricanes — potentially catastrophic storms with winds stronger than 110 mph.
The Tropical Meteorology Project, a brainchild of the late hurricane guru Bill Gray, is considered among the best in hurricane research.
AccuWeather.com, a private forecasting company, predicted a similar season and numbers earlier this week. The official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast will be given out at the end of May. The designated season opens June 1 and runs through November.
Similar numbers were predicted by forecaster for the 2017 hurricane season. The actual season — with its devastating month of extraordinarily powerful storms — left some people in the Lowcountry, the state and the nation shaken to their core.
Hundreds died from the Caribbean to the U.S. mainland. Hundreds of thousands more were left homeless.
Nine storms became hurricanes and six of those became major hurricanes. In South Carolina, brushes by Tropical Storm Irma and other storms caused millions of dollars in damage.
Four of the worst hurricanes formed one after the other from late August into September. Two — Irma and Maria — reached cataclysmic Category Five with winds stronger than 156 mph.
The other two — Harvey and Jose — reached Hurricane Hugo strength with winds above 130 mph.
At one point, Irma became strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The combined power of the four storms, along with weaker hurricanes Katia and Lee, made that period the worst on record.
Repair costs already are in the billions and power hasn’t been restored completely to Puerto Rico yet. Harvey, Irma and Marie could turn out to be three of the five costliest hurricanes on record, according to a tweet by NOAA hurricane specialist Eric Blake.
Klotzbach urged coastal residents to prepare, paraphrasing the old meteorologist adage: It only takes one hurricane to make for a bad season, if it passes near you.