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Hurricane season enters final month; Bulloch appears to be missed
hurricane image
In this image from NASA, Hurricane Fran is shown heading for the east coast in 1996. It made landfall as a Category 3 storm on North Carolina's southern coast. - photo by Special
    Hurricane season enters its final month Saturday, and it looks like the Georgia coast and Bulloch County will go another year without a storm doing serious damage.
    Since the season began June 1, the Savannah coastline has come under possible threats from Hurricanes Gustav, Hannah and Ike this year. The storms, however stayed away. There are several reasons from a geographic standpoint, why hurricanes tend to move further to the north or stay south of the Southeast Georgia region.
    Savannah sits approximately at the same latitude as the Sub-Tropical ridge that produces or carries most storms our way. Also, the Georgia coastline roughly parallels the track of most storms, which therefore remain far offshore as they head north.
According to a recent study, the chance that a major hurricane will strike the Savannah area is only 1.3  percent in any given year and only 7.1 percent that a hurricane will even pass within 75 miles of the coastline. Compare that with Cape Hatteras, N.C., 5.3 percent and 21.3 percent, and Miami at 11.1 percent and 26.3 percent.
    In fact, data shows that the Savannah area has been particularly free of hurricane threats in the past 150 years. While more than 2,000 hurricanes and tropical storms rumlbled around the Atlantic and Caribbean between 1850 and 2008, only about 45 hurricanes and tropical storms have actually come within 100 miles of Savannah’s coastline. Of those, the category 3 “Sea Island Hurricane” of 1854 was the worst.
    About 2,000 people lost their lives as a result of the September 1854 storm that flattened the Coastal Empire. Boats were sunk up the Savannah River, and crops were totally washed out at coastal plantations. The hurricane’s winds and rains washed over the Pine Barrens, destroying crops and washing out railroads and overflowing rivers. To make matters worse, Yellow Fever raged throughout the city at that time.
    On Aug. 27, 1893, a huge storm passed over Tybee Island with winds said to have been in excess of 150 miles per hour and waves more than 25 feet in height. On Oct. 2, 1898, a Category 4 storm again passed directly over Tybee, leveling everything in its path.
    Several strong hurricanes have struck in relatively recent history: on August 11, 1940, a storm crossed directly over the city of Savannah with winds of 105 miles per hour. David passed near Savannah as a minimal hurricane in September 1979 and left thousands of residents without power for as much as two weeks.
    Statistically speaking, studies show that every 3.61 years there is a hurricane which will brush the Georgia coastline or came across the land from the Gulf Coast, and that the Savannah coastline is threatened with a direct hit every 9.13 years. According to these figures, Savannah is due for another threatening hurricane sometime before the end of the 2010 hurricane season.
For residents of Bulloch County, however, studies show that the most dangerous storms to threaten the Pine Barrens and then Savannah come between mid-August through mid-October. The majority of storms that actually pass over the Wiregrass region, it turns out, approach from the south or southwest. Consequently, they have lost most of their strength by the time they get to Bulloch and leave little or no damage.
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