Officials encourage preparedness as hurricane season starts in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — With hurricane season starting Wednesday, South Carolina emergency officials want residents to prepare.

Gov. Henry McMaster has proclaimed Hurricane Preparedness Week starting Sunday.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division is emphasizing this year that people know their evacuation zone, how to prepare their home to ride out a storm and what highways they need to take to evacuate with the slogan “Know Your Zone, Prepare Your Home, Remember Your Route.”

Preparing your home not only includes checking your hurricane shutters and roof, but also making sure that you have the right kind and right amount of insurance, the agency said.

And it’s not just coastal homes that need to prepare. Recent hurricanes to hit South Carolina have brought massive floods inland and can also bring tornadoes and high winds well away from the coast.

Health officials said residents should also make sure their COVID-19 boosters and vaccinations are up to date and include masks and other disease-fighting items in their hurricane kits in case they need to evacuate to areas where there is high spread of disease.

Four hurricanes have directly or indirectly impacted South Carolina in the past six years, prompting evacuations for Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Irma in 2017, Hurricane Florence in 2018 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

Meteorologists are predicting an above average number of hurricanes and tropical storms this year.

1st of 2022, Hurricane Agatha forms in Pacific off Mexico

Hurricane Agatha, the first hurricane of the season, formed off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast Sunday and was heading quickly for land.

Agatha could make landfall on Monday near Puerto Escondido, in the southern state of Oaxaca.

On Sunday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said the center of Agatha was located about 200 miles (320 kilometers) west-southwest of Puerto Angel, with winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

It was heading to the north-northwest at 3 mph (6 kph).

The civil defense office in Oaxaca said the hurricane’s outer bands were already hitting the coast. The office published photos of fishermen hauling their boats up on beaches to protect them from the storm.

Agatha is the first tropical storm of the 2022 hurricane season in the eastern Pacific.

A hurricane warning was issued for parts of the coast of the southern states of Guerrero and Oaxaca.

The storm could carry winds as high as 90 mph (145 kph) at landfall and the center cited the risk of “potentially life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides” as its rains pound the mountainous terrain of Oaxaca.

Mexico’s National Water Commission said in a statement that the storm’s rains “could cause mudslides, a rise in river and stream levels and flooding in low-lying areas.”

Because the storm’s current path would carry it over the narrow waist of Mexico’s isthmus, the center said there was a chance the storm’s remnants could reemerge over the Gulf of Mexico.

In northern Guatemala, a woman and her six children died Saturday when a landslide engulfed their home, but the accident did not appear to be related to Agatha.

(WATCH BELOW: Cleaner air contributes to more Atlantic hurricanes)