Forecasters predict an above-average number of storms for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season which starts today.

That means that residents along Georgia’s cost, which has long avoided a direct strike from a major storm, will sweat out the next six months, wondering if years of luck will finally run out.

Georgia had a brush with Hurricane Matthew last season, but the October storm did not make direct landfall in Georgia as a major storm. Landfall is defined as the point where the storm’s eye crosses the coast.  Matthew’s brush with the Georgia coast brought hurricane conditions to most of the areas near the ocean last year, giving the state a kind of test for its preparation for the big one that is all but certain to hit sooner or later.

Georgia Emergency Management Agency director Homer Bryson referred to that storm in May when urging coasting residents to prepare early for this season.

“We saw firsthand the devastating effects Hurricane Matthew had on coastal Georgia,” he said in a release last month. “I encourage every resident, whether they live inland or on the coast, to prepare before the Atlantic hurricane season begins in June.”

Matthew killed three people in Georgia and caused almost $100 million in property damage.

Forecasters say this year will likely bring more storms to the Atlantic basic. According to forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a 45 percent chance the season will be busier than normal, with a 25 percent chance of below-normal tropical activity.

The increase is blamed on the lack of a strong El Nino system.

They are predicting between 11 and 17 named storms, with 5-9 of those becoming hurricanes and 2-4 becoming major storms.  An average season delivers 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major storms.  The 2016 season was busier than normal with 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

The season ends Nov. 30.


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