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October hurricanes are very much a possibility. Here's why. | Hurricane Wire

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BRIDGE Waves_0233 (copy)

Waves crash near Sullivan's Island in front of the Ravenel Bridge on Saturday as Hurricane Matthew moved away in October 2016. (ANDREW KNAPP/STAFF)

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Why October doesn't put us in the clear

OK, here's where we are: The threat of a hurricane making landfall in South Carolina diminishes rapidly through October, but it's far from impossible these first few weeks. Some notable October hurricanes:

  • Hurricane Matthew rose to Category 5 strength in October 2016 before weakening as it came up the Southeast coast and making landfall near McClellanville on Oct. 4 as a storm with minimal hurricane winds of about 75 mph.

  • The infamous Hurricane Hazel blasted ashore near the South Carolina-North Carolina border on Oct. 15, 1954 with winds that have been estimated at 150 mph.

  • Oh, and the hurricane that became Superstorm Sandy — and devastated New Jersey in 2012  made landfall on Oct. 29. The South Carolina coast was under a hurricane warning as it passed by a few days earlier.

  • In recent years at least 10 October hurricanes or tropical storms have swiped South Carolina coming from offshore or overland across the Southeast. In fact, October is considered to be the busiest month for landfalls in Florida, and a lot of those storms moved inland through the region.

  • Mostly, though, October storms have brought windy rain to the state and much of the Southeast.

This year has been plenty stormy after a slow start, meeting forecasters' expectations: 13 named storms, 5 becoming hurricanes and 3 becoming powerful destructive hurricanes with winds stronger than 110 mph.

Hurricane Dorian swept by Charleston in early September with 69 mph gusts recorded at the National Weather Service office in North Charleston, some of the strongest in recent years.

Those gusts equaled the blasts from Matthew and were stronger than nearly every other named storm to roll through or past the Lowcountry recently, overpowered only by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which blew 98 mph gusts at the office.

Map: Where exactly do storms form in October?

brussee graphic 10/03

Where in the Atlantic should you be watching this month? Historically, storms that form this month that grow into hurricanes (red) or tropical storms (blue) have popped up in the western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, according to N.O.A.A.'s HURDAT database. (Bryan Brussee/Staff)

What's brewing

Conditions: Continue to be a dice shaker for storms. The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday was watching two developing storms, but one had fallen apart by Wednesday. The other, in the western Caribbean Sea, wasn't expected to turn tropical. Meanwhile, monsoon storms are still rolling off Africa, but have washed out in the wake of powerful and massive Hurricane Lorenzo. 

Computer models: Suggest a monsoon storm coming off Africa on Friday could become the next tropical storm or hurricane in the Atlantic.

Outlook: The benchmark forecasting institution Tropical Meteorology Project says wind shifts make it likely for more tropical storms or hurricanes to form in the next two weeks. The primary threat will be shifting west from the eastern and central tropical Atlantic to the western Atlantic.

brussee brewin 10/03

A tropical disturbance off the western tip of Cuba has a 1 in 5 chance of developing into a tropical cyclone in the next 5 days. Data provided by N.O.A.A. (Bryan Brussee/Staff) 

What we're talking about

Hurricanes in history 

hurricanes history 10/03

A powerful Hurricane Hilda menaced the Louisiana coast, spawning tornadoes and leaving costly damage and dozens dead in October 1964. A man carries his wife from their home near Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. File/AP

Your questions, answered

Have a question about how hurricanes work, how we cover them or any other storm-related inquiry? Reply to this email and we may feature your question in an upcoming newsletter!

Hurricane Wire is a pop-up newsletter during hurricane season that delivers anyone who lives on the East Coast all the information they need to know as storms brew in the Atlantic and beyond.

Reach Bo Petersen at @bopete on Twitter or 843-937-5744.

Chloe Johnson edits the Health and Environment team and writes about South Carolina's changing climate. Her work has been recognized by the Society for Features Journalism, the Scripps Howard Foundation and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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