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State Urges South Carolinians to Prep for Tropical Weather

Hurricane Florence, seen here as a Category 3 storm on Sept. 12, 2018, approaches the East Coast. It eventually made landfall as a Category 1 storm near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., on Sept. 14, and caused massive inland flooding.
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — As the Atlantic hurricane season approaches, officials in South Carolina are encouraging residents to get their supplies and plans in order, in case the state is impacted by storms again this year.

Sunday begins South Carolina Hurricane Preparedness Week, as proclaimed by Gov. Henry McMaster.

During this week, state and county emergency managers and the National Weather Service are urging South Carolinians to start making storm preparation plans, which they say should include reviewing insurance policies and discussing what could happen during a major storm.

There are different official focus topics for each day, including evacuation zone awareness, what items to put in an emergency kit and ways to care for pets during a storm.

“Hurricanes and tropical storms impact South Carolina not only on our coast, but across our state,” McMaster tweeted last week. “With hurricane season quickly approaching, it is crucial that South Carolinians begin to prepare.”

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins Tuesday and runs through November.

According to state emergency management officials, South Carolina is one of the most vulnerable states to hurricanes and tropical storms, although it was spared last year. The state's six coastal counties that border the Atlantic Ocean have more than 200 miles (322 km) of coastline; another 21 inland counties can be directly affected by storms.

While storm surge and flooding are the greatest threats from a hurricane or tropical storm, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division warns that high winds and tornadoes can also cause severe damage.

Forecasters predict a busy hurricane season along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, although perhaps not as severe as 2020’s record-shattering year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said earlier this month that the season will likely see 13 to 20 named storms, including at least six that will become hurricanes, and three to five categorized as major hurricanes with winds of more than 110 mph (177 kilometers per hour).

President Joe Biden announced earlier this month that he’s doubling U.S. emergency spending to help communities prepare for hurricanes and other extreme weather events, although the $1 billion in spending is a small fraction of what the U.S. spends on weather-related disasters. Last year, the nation endured 22 weather and climate-related disasters — including wildfires, hurricanes and snowstorms — with losses greater than $1 billion each.

The country's cumulative disaster price tag was nearly $100 billion.

This year has already had significant winter storms that caused a deadly blackout in Texas and other states, and officials expect an ongoing severe drought in the West to fuel another destructive summer of wildfires following one of the worst fire years on record in 2020.

Tropical Storm Ana, this season's first named storm, formed May 23 in the north Atlantic, losing strength the next day.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.