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Tropical weather conditions are keeping storms south of Charleston this hurricane season

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Tropical storm Isaias Hurricane (copy) (copy)

A golf cart passes through standing water along East Battery in Charleston. Isaias passed the city as a tropical storm in the summer before becoming a hurricane again. File/Matthew Fortner/Staff

The Atlantic is up to 26 named storms so far this hurricane season, eight of which headed straight for Gulf Coast states.

Meteorologists say wind patterns and pressure over the Atlantic are two of the main reasons for the trend. 

Matthew Rosencrans, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said wind patterns cause storms to move where they do. And changes in pressure and temperature on a global scale cause those wind patterns to shift. 

What would cause more storms to come toward the Gulf Coast, rather than toward Florida and the East Coast, "would be that high pressure over the western Atlantic, also known as the 'Bermuda high,' " Rosencrans said. 

If that high pressure over the ocean is stronger and pushes farther to the west, it will push more of the storms that way too, he said, and into the Gulf of Mexico.

But if the pressure slid farther east, storms could move up the East Coast. 

Where the storms go can also be impacted by low-pressure systems that are coming out of the central part of the U.S., Rosencrans said.

"So that's kind of a two-part factor there," he added.

Nov. 30 is the official end of hurricane season. But oftentimes, an active season can continue into early December.

Rosencrans said NOAA's latest global tropics outlook shows a moderate chance of tropical cyclone formation through the beginning of November. 

"Climatology says that we get about one storm in November in the entire Atlantic basin," Rosencrans said. "But then again, climatology says we only (see) 12 named storms, and we're up to 26 this year."

So it wouldn't be out of the question for a couple of storms to form near the U.S. coast in October and November. 

Cary J. Mock, a climatologist and professor of geography at the University of South Carolina, said the Palmetto State usually gets up to four named storms a year. This year, the state saw direct impacts from both Bertha and Isaias.

"It was probably an average season for us, but we're a relatively smaller target and we don't stick out in the ocean like Florida and the East Coast of North Carolina does," Mock said.

He said he thinks activity affecting the Gulf states will level off because water temperatures are cooling. A jet stream, or narrow bands of strong wind, is also moving farther south which tends to push storms away, according to Mock. 

"But we still think it's something in the Caribbean," Mock said. "And there's a real outside chance — and I'll just say an outside chance — something over there can come up and maybe cliff South Florida."

It would take something very unusual for most other areas to be impacted by Atlantic storms during the remainder of the season, he said. 

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