An emergency manager's offhand remark doubting hurricane evacuation warnings drove home the point to coastal scientist Rob Young: Why should we believe storm track predictions when these guys can't even get the season forecasts right?
People's trust in the science of tracking hurricanes has been marred by inaccurate hurricane season predictions that are released before the season begins. Coastal managers worry about how readily people will respond to warnings to evacuate once a storm is actually on its way.
Along the South Carolina coast, a reluctance to evacuate could mean a disaster. During the height of vacation- and hurricane - season an evacuation might put 2 million people on the road. If too many wait to the last minute, traffic will gridlock. If they don't go, storm surge becomes deadly.
Sunday is the opening of the 2008 hurricane season in the Atlantic basin, the time of year when conditions are ripe for tropical storms to form. The season runs through October. In Charleston, the most worrisome days tend to run from August through September, when storms off West Africa strengthen as they cross the Atlantic and curl toward the Southeastern coast.
Inside Sunday's Post and Courier is a guide on preparing for the threat of the storms. Brush off the "experts" if you want. But make plans.