Each fall semester occurs during hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1st through November 30th. Northeastern South Carolina typically experiences the peak of hurricane season from late August through October, although impacts have occurred outside these times. In recent years, we have had considerable experience with hurricane preparation and response. Collectively, we are ready as a University. However, each individual also has a personal responsibility to plan, prepare, and act whenever a tropical system threatens.
The purpose of this page is to provide links to resources to help you plan and prepare for a possible hurricane. Note that I do not currently update this page in real time for individual storms. Please check the CCU Advisory page for campus updates if a storm is threatening.
Have a Plan
If you are taking classes on campus at CCU, live in the local area, or live in another coastal area, then you need to have a plan for continuing the semester if a hurricane threatens. Per the CCU Academic Continuity Plan, classes will continue online even if it becomes necessary to close and evacuate the campus. A hurricane does not mean a vacation! Instead, it is a time for preparation, evacuation (if necessary), and then continuation of your coursework.
For those students living on campus or in a designated evacuation zone, it is important to remember to take the following items with you when evacuating:
- Laptop or desktop computer, including charger, cables, and all external drives;
- Phone and charger;
- All textbooks, notes, and other course materials for all your classes (including any Fall II classes that have not yet started);
- Medications, medical equipment, and other critical supplies;
- Anything irreplaceable (in case your dorm room or apartment is damaged).
As a general rule, you should also take your computer and course materials with you whenever you leave campus or leave the local area. Hurricanes or other contingencies could occur while you’re away, or something else could happen on your trip and delay your return.
If you live in a coastal area but are outside a designated evacuation zone, you should review local hurricane preparation materials and have a plan for securing your residence and riding out the storm. In particular, be sure that you are able to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days.
- CCU Hurricanes Page - This page contains general information about hurricane preparation for the campus community. Note in particular the Public Safety video at the bottom of this page regarding campus closures.
- CCU Hurricane FAQs - Common University-related questions are answered here.
The following resources are for the State of South Carolina. If you’re a remote student living in the coastal area of another state or country, please refer to the information and planning documents provided by your local jurisdiction.
- SCEMD: Know Your Zone - If you live off campus anywhere along the South Carolina coast, you need to know if you’re in an evacuation zone, and what your zone letter is. In the event of an evacuation, zone letters will be used to communicate which parts of the coastline are vulnerable to storm surge for a particular hurricane. Note that all evacuations in South Carolina are mandatory.
- South Carolina Hurricane Guide - Review this guide at the start of each hurricane season. Information may change from year to year.
During hurricane season, you should check the weather forecast daily and stay abreast of any potential tropical developments.
All evacuation orders are issued by the Governor and will be communicated via local television, radio stations, and Internet sources. Since CCU is a state agency, the University generally does not cancel classes or close residence halls until after the Governor has made an evacuation decision. Communications regarding changes to campus operations will normally occur after the Governor makes a public announcement.
- SCETV YouTube Channel - Governor’s press conferences are live streamed here
- SCEMD Twitter Feed - Evacuation orders and storm information are normally posted here
- SC Governor Executive Orders - There may be a delay before executive orders are posted, so SCETV, SCEMD, and local media are typically faster at providing updates
General information about any damage and effects from the storm may be found by reading news articles and watching video reports from local media. If you’re out of town while a storm hits, please remember that the media go out and search for the worst damage they can find, as that makes for the most sensational news reports. Your dorm room, apartment, or house might not have suffered the same damage, or any damage at all.
My Hurricane Plan
I live in Horry County Coastal Evacuation Zone C and will generally leave whenever my zone is evacuated, which would typically occur for category 4 and 5 hurricanes. I may also leave for some weaker hurricanes depending on operational and research needs. My intent is to remain reachable via email and to hold office hours and any synchronous courses virtually in Microsoft Teams. Depending on the storm impacts, I may be limited by generator power and backup Internet access. In this event, I will communicate to classes and advisees as soon as I can get email working again.
CCU Hurricane History
I have lived in the area and worked at CCU since 2010. Where I have been able to find historical information or have listened to the accounts of colleagues from before my time, I’ve included older hurricanes. This list is therefore not complete.
- Ian (2022): A late September hurricane that made its final landfall near Georgetown as a Category 1 system after first devastating southwestern Florida as a top end Category 4. Due to the uncertain track and relatively high speed of travel, there was not time for an evacuation. This hurricane was a rare example of one where campus stayed open, although classes moved online to keep everyone indoors. Damage to campus was minimal and primarily consisted of water leaks, but numerous homes and businesses in nearby Garden City were flooded by Ian’s storm surge.
- Isaias (2020): An early season hurricane that made landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, NC at Category 1 strength. There was little to no damage to campus. Fall semester had not yet started, so there was no disruption to fall classes. Summer II courses were ongoing but were already in distance learning format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dorian (2019): A near miss from a Category 3 hurricane, with the strongest winds passing about 45 miles offshore. The storm weakened to Category 2 before eventually making landfall at Cape Hatteras, NC. Campus sustained only minor damage, primarily due to leaks. Classes had been in session only a few weeks before campus had to be evacuated for about a week.
- Florence (2018): Record flooding. At one point in the forecast, Florence was expected to make landfall around Myrtle Beach as a Category 4 major hurricane. It fortunately weakened and made landfall around Wrightsville Beach, NC as a Category 1. Unfortunately, it then took about 3 days to cross our area, weakening into a strong tropical storm in the process. Between 15 inches and nearly 3 feet of rain fell over the eastern Carolinas, leading to massive flooding of major river systems, including the Waccamaw. Campus sustained some minor damage, mostly due to water leaks. Due to the flooding, the disruption of the highways, and concerns about supplying enough food to the area, the University was closed for about 3 weeks.
- Irma (2017): A storm that made landfall in Florida, after failing to turn northward along the eastern US coastline as originally forecast. Campus had to be evacuated for a few days when the forecast called for a major hurricane impact, but Irma’s failure to turn meant that our area only received some rain and a few strong wind gusts. No significant damage occurred.
- Matthew (2016): A direct hit from a Category 1 hurricane, which came ashore near McClellanville, SC and moved directly over our area. Significant tree damage occurred, with widespread power outages in the area. Record flooding from heavy rains occurred (with the record shattered two years later by Florence). Campus was closed for about a week.
- Irene (2011): This hurricane passed by the area before making landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and then again around the New York City Metropolitan Area. Impacts to campus were minimal, requiring only the cancellation of evening classes on the day of its closest approach. Myrtle Beach experienced some strong (about 50 mph) wind gusts and heavy rain, resulting in some scattered tree damage.
- Floyd (1999): Floyd was before my time at CCU, but it approached the coastline as a Category 4 hurricane, resulting in what was then the largest peacetime evacuation in United States history. Until the record flooding in 2015 (which was then eclipsed by the flooding after Matthew in 2016, which itself was eclipsed by the flooding after Florence in 2018), Floyd was responsible for the highest recorded water level on the Waccamaw River in Conway.
- Hugo (1989): I was only 7 years old and lived in Greenville, about 200 miles inland, but I remember Hugo. Hugo was the most recent major hurricane to make a direct impact on the South Carolina coastline, making landfall on Sullivan’s Island, just east of Charleston. Part of the reason Hugo’s impacts were so severe in Upstate SC was that it quickly moved inland, which had the effect of keeping the eyewall (and thus the strongest wind damage) west of Conway and Myrtle Beach. Nevertheless, accounts from people who lived in this area at the time describe considerable damage and weeklong power outages.