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Hurricane Irma is no more; 6-8 hurricanes predicted this year
This file photo of Fort McAllister Marina shows some of the damage Hurricane Irma caused in Bryan County. - photo by Ted O'Neil

Irma, which impacted other places much more heavily than it did Bryan County last year, is one of four storm names that will not be repeated, according to the World Meteorological Association.

The names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate will not be repeated due to the amount of destruction they caused last year. They have been replaced by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel, respectively. Those names will first appear on the 2023 list, as storm names are repeated in six-year cycles.

For a look at how Hurricane Irma impacted Bryan County, please see:

The list of names for 2018 are: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie and William.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30 annually.

Forecasters are predicting a near normal to slightly above-normal year with between 12 to 15 tropical storms. Of those storms, six to eight are forecast to become hurricanes and three to five are forecast to become major hurricanes.

"Last year we had 17 tropical storms. This year may not be quite as active, but still probably normal to slightly above normal," AccuWeather Atlantic Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

Similar to last year, sea surface temperatures are expected to remain warmer than normal across most of the basin and normal to above normal over the main developmental region, where more than 85 percent of all tropical storms form.

"Right now, we are in a weakening La Niña pattern, but the climate pattern is expected to go into what’s called a neutral pattern, which promotes near-normal wind shear," Kottlowski said.

This should limit tropical development.

"The thing that’s causing the balance to tip in one direction is that sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal," he said.

Warm water creates more favorable conditions for tropical development.

While last year brought six impacts to the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, this year is more likely to result in three or four.

"This season may not bring as many impacts, but I’m almost afraid to tell people this because it only takes one big storm to hit you to cause massive damage," Kottlowski said.

"We saw that from Harvey, Irma and Maria last year. If all we had was just another Irma or Harvey, that would be more than enough to cause catastrophic damage for any coastal community."

According to Kottlowski, conditions are ripe for early season development in the Gulf of Mexico due the warm water already in place in that part of the Atlantic basin.

As for the rest of the season, historical records and the projected pattern suggest the area from Houston to Florida and up through the Outer Banks of North Carolina will be more favorable for direct impacts from tropical storms and hurricanes.

"Anywhere else along the coast, everybody should still be vigilant and prepare for a possible direct impact," Kottlowski said.

"You should have a hurricane plan in action. In other words: If you had to evacuate, what would you take with you? And if you were staying home, how would you deal with a storm that may knock your power out, may knock your water service out," he said.

"You want to prepare for the worst case scenario — that’s called having a hurricane plan. And the government and local officials do have guidelines on how to create such a plan depending on where you live."

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