Hurricane season has not affected the Liberty County area in recent years. In fact, the last major hurricane to hit Georgia happened over a century ago.
This year could be an even quieter year than normal, though, due to the 2014 El Nino weather event, according to Mike Hodges, director of the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency.
According to noaa.gov, an El Nino is created by the warming in sea surfaces in the central and east-central Pacific Ocean around the equator and can cause above-average temperatures in the western and northern United States and wetter conditions in the Gulf Coast and Florida. Hodges said an El Nino traditionally means a calm hurricane season but a harsh winter season in the Southeast.
“An El Nino year usually means that you’re going to have a less-active hurricane season and a more-active winter season,” Hodges said. “Is that going to happen? I don’t know. We just simply have to rely on our meteorologists to really look at that closely. We hope it won’t be a bad year either way, because here in the South, hurricanes are bad, but we’re not prepared for snow, either.”
Just because it could be a less-active hurricane season does not mean the community should avoid preparing for a hurricane. Though a major hurricane has never affected the Southeast during an El Nino year, the Liberty County EMA stresses that everyone should treat it just like any other hurricane season.
Sheri Reddicks, Liberty County EMA administrative assistant, and Hodges both said their biggest problem is keeping the public involved when they hear that the upcoming hurricane season will be less active.
“This hurricane season is different because it’s supposed to be quiet this year. Even though it’s quiet, that doesn’t mean it won’t start something,” Reddicks said. “So people should still be aware.”
In the case there is a major storm this season, there are several ways the community can keep safe.
“We have a program called Alert Liberty, and we ask everybody to sign up,” Hodges said. “It gives you immediate weather information. As many outlets as you will give it, it will notify you, such as your telephone and computer. It’ll contact you until it finds you.”
The community also should evacuate, if necessary, in a major hurricane emergency. The EMA will announce if that needs to happen and said everyone’s cooperation would be the most helpful in that situation.
The easiest way the community can stay prepared, however, is to keep up with the news.
“We certainly ask everybody to stay tuned in, read the news, watch the weather outlets and stay aware,” Hodges said. “Education is the very best thing you can do.”