Severe Weather Awareness
The heavens thundered and the air shone with frequent fire;
and all things threatened men with instant death
Virgil, Aeneid, Book I, 1, 90
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
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
Between Jan 1, 1993 and Sept 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 product
of severe thunderstorms and causes millions of dollars of damage to crops each year.
Between Jan 1, 1993 and Sept 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:
"On the eighth of May last, a most extraordinary shower of hail,
thunder and lightning, fell in this district, and along the banks of the Wateree; the
hail stones or rather pieces of ice, measured about 9 inches in circumference; it
killed several people, a great number of sheep, lambs, geese, and the feathered
inhabitants of the woods without numbers; its greatest violence did not extend
more than two miles in breadth, but where it began or ended is not known; within
that space it stript trees of their leaves and even their bark, and every blade of
grass was beat to the ground. But what is even more astonishing there are at this
time [46 days later] many wagon loads of hailstones unmelted, lying in the hollows
and gullies on the Wateree."
David M. Ludlum, The American Weather Book,
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1982
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!
This tornado killed 67 people and injured 678.
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
actions can save the lives of you and your family.
Severe Weather Preparedness and Education pages
The National Weather Service encourages you to use the severe weather information in your
broadcasts or printed articles. If more information is needed or if you would like to conduct
interviews, have panel discussions, etc., contact the nearest National Weather Service Office or the
state Emergency Management Division.
To learn more about severe weather - visit one of the pages below: