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“ARTHUR” FIRST NAMED SYSTEM TO DRAW A BEAD ON EAST COAST

We’ve been writing a lot in recent weeks about reasons to avoid South Carolina’s Grand Strand – and specifically Myrtle Beach, S.C. (a.k.a. the “Dirty Myrtle”).

Among those reasons? Violence and pollution.

Well guess what … we forgot to mention another reason: The threat of tropical systems bearing down on the area during the summer and fall months.  Sure South Carolina hasn’t sustained a direct hit from a major system in twenty-five years … but that just means we’re due, right?

Anyway, the first named storm of the 2014 season – “Arthur” – has formed off the coast of Florida.  The system is currently packing maximum sustained winds of only 41 miles per hour, but is expected to strengthen as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard.

“The center of the tropical cyclone is expected to remain just offshore and move east of the east-central coast of Florida during the next day or so,” an advisory from the National Weather Service (NWS) reads.  “Additional strengthening is forecast in the next 48 hours.”

Here’s a clip of Arthur forming off the Florida coast …

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Nice …

Now … where’s it headed?  Well, here’s the official five-day forecast window from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) …

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And here’s the forecast track …

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So yeah … the early signs point to a near miss for South Carolina, although these storms are wildly unpredictable.

For the latest tropical information, we recommend readers check out BoatUS.com’s Hurricane Tracking and Resource Center, probably the best online destination for the latest tropical storm and hurricane information.

Last year was a quiet one in the tropics.  The Atlantic basin produced only fourteen named storms in 2013, only two of which became hurricanes (and none of which turned into major hurricanes).

In 2012 there were 19 named storms including 10 hurricanes – two of which were major storms. There were also 19 named storms in 2011, including seven hurricanes – four of which were major storms. In 2010 there were …  you guessed it … 19 named storms including twelve hurricanes, five of which were major.

South Carolina has seen 23 hurricane landfalls since 1893 – the most infamous being Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Fortunately the state has avoided any direct hits from major storms since then, although there have been several close calls – including Hurricane Irene in 2011.