(Statewide) Severe weather is no stranger to South Carolina with an average of approximately 60 days each year with thunderstorms. While the vast majority (90%) of thunderstorms are not severe, the remaining 10 percent have left their legacy in the history of the state.
- Damaging winds associated with thunderstorms result in millions of dollars in property damage each year. These severe thunderstorm winds (at least 58 miles an hour) can exceed 100 miles an hour!
- Between January 1, 1993, and September 30, 1999, lightning caused an estimated $20 million in property damage in South Carolina, injured 47 people, and killed 9 people.
- Large hail (at least 3/4 inch in diameter - or penny size) is a frequent product of severe thunderstorms and causes millions of dollars of damage to crops each year.
- Between January 1, 1993, and September 30, 1999, the largest reported hail in South Carolina was 3.75 inches in diameter (that's larger than a softball!).
- Hail has caused fatalities in South Carolina in the past, as reported in the South Carolina Gazette on July 1, 1784.
Tornadoes are the most violent of nature's storms with winds that can exceed 300 miles an hour. South Carolina reports an average of 10 tornadoes each year. While most tornadoes are only on the ground for a very short distance, some have traveled almost halfway across the state. In 1924, a tornado that started in Aiken County South Carolina traveled 135 miles into Florence County. That tornado killed 67 people and injured 678.
South Carolina also has a long history of flooding problems caused by hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rains that overflow rivers and bring about flooding. Flood prone areas have been identified in every county, city, and town in South Carolina
Several recent major storms have inundated residents with intense rains:
- August 29, 2005 - Rainfall peaked at 12 inches as Tropical Storm Gaston moved up the coast of South Carolina.
- September 17-18, 2000 - Northeast South Carolina received 8-10 inches of heavy rains and resulting floods.
- September 15-16, 1999 - Hurricane Floyd moved inland delivering 5-10 inches of heavy rains and damaging inland floods.
Between 1996 and 2005, South Carolina has experienced six flood-related federally declared disasters caused by hurricanes and tropical storms including Floyd, Bonnie, Charlie, Fran, Francis, and Gaston. In the decade before, Hurricane Hugo (September 1989) devastated South Carolina resulting in $47 million dollars in NFIP claims payments.
There is nothing that can be done to prevent severe weather from striking South Carolina. While the greatest threat of severe weather is between March and August, with the peak of tornado season March through May, severe thunderstorms can strike any time of the year, and any time of the day or night.
Awareness of the threats posed by thunderstorms, and being prepared to take immediate action, can save the lives of you and your family.
To learn more about severe weather, visit one of the pages below: