Bonnie. Hermine. Julia. Matthew.
This was the most active hurricane season to hit the South Carolina coast in 12 years, but Wednesday marked its end.
“It’s certainly the most active season we’ve had in a while,” said Tim Armstrong, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, N.C. “It has been active, obviously capped off with Hurricane Matthew, but even just in the number of weak storms that we’ve had, it was certainly a memorable season.”
Armstrong said the last time four tropical systems impacted the Carolina coast was in 2004.
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And although predictions aren’t out yet for next year’s season, Armstrong says early signs point to a weather pattern that may make for a lighter season next summer.
“They normally don’t put the outlooks out until the middle of the spring for next season, but … one of the things that probably helped enhance the number of storms we had this year was we’re in a La Niña pattern right now,” Armstrong said.
La Niña patterns tend “to make the Atlantic a little more active for hurricanes,” he said. But “the outlook for next summer is we might be in a weak El Niño pattern by then, which would actually help to keep the number of storms down perhaps.”
No storms were brewing in the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday — the last day of the typical Atlantic hurricane season, which usually runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
“That’s the season where we see almost all of these Atlantic tropical systems, not all but most of them occur in that window,” Armstrong said.
The 2016 season started early with Tropical Storm Bonnie blowing in over Memorial Day weekend.
Bonnie made landfall at the Isle of Palms on the morning of Sunday, May 29, bringing drenching rain and flash flooding to South Carolina. The system also churned up rip currents along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas.
Armstrong said this was the second year in a row for a May tropical storm to hit the Carolinas.
It’s certainly the most active season we’ve had in a while.
Tim Armstrong, National Weather Service meteorologist
Tropical Storm Ana made landfall in Myrtle Beach over Mother’s Day weekend in May 2015, bringing rain, wind and beach erosion to coastal communities in the Carolinas.
“It’s very unusual to have two years in a row with an out-of-season storm affecting the Carolinas,” Armstrong said.
Although it never made landfall in South Carolina, Tropical Storm Colin brushed by the coast churning up the risk of rip currents on June 5.
Tropical Storm Hermine blew into Myrtle Beach on Sept. 2 dumping torrential rain that flooded roads, churning up rough seas that led to swim advisories and ushering in wind gusts that knocked out power in different parts of the county.
Tropical Storm Julia formed a week-and-a-half later over land in northeastern Florida on the night of Sept. 13, according to the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The storm whipped up rain and rip currents from northern Florida to the South Carolina coast before sauntering out to sea and taking its final bow five days later.
Then came Matthew.
Hurricane Matthew hit the South Carolina coast near McClellanville as a Category 1 storm on Oct. 8.
Matthew formed near the Windwood Islands in the Caribbean on Sept. 28, according to The Weather Channel online. It reached a category 5 strength two days later before tearing through Haiti and eastern Cuba as a category 4 storm Oct. 4, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
In Horry County, Matthew brought damaging winds that uprooted trees, snapped the trunks of tall pines like toothpicks and took out power lines sparking outages for some customers that lasted a week. Matthew spawned a tornado that wreaked havoc in North Myrtle Beach. Flash flooding plagued the county. But more damage came in the days after Matthew left.
Flooding from the heavy rains that drenched North Carolina deluged Horry County communities along the Waccamaw and Little Pee Dee rivers and the Intracoastal Waterway, topping record flood levels last marked in 1928.
Meteorologists were glad the season came to an end Wednesday and that there were no signs of any late brewing storms on the horizon.
“Our ocean water temperature is dropping down to the 60s real fast and that’s way too cold for anything tropical so I think our season here is shut down … until next spring or summer,” Armstrong said.