National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week in South Carolina is March 10-16, 2019
Statewide Tornado Drill scheduled for Wednesday, March 13 at 9:00 AM





The South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the National Weather Service jointly sponsor this week to
remind people that severe storms, tornadoes and flash floods are significant hazards in South Carolina and people
need to take proper safety precautions. SCEMD and the National Weather Service are promoting awareness of
procedures that help keep you safe during floods and tornadoes.

A highlight of the week will be the annual statewide tornado drill. The drill is conducted in close coordination with the
South Carolina Broadcasters Association. The State Superintendent of Education is encouraging schools statewide
to participate. South Carolina has received a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission to use the
Tornado Warning product on NOAA tone-alert weather radio when the drill is conducted. During the drill, the National
Weather Service will use a real-event code, TOR.  The “TOR” code will activate tone-alert weather radios that are set
to receive tornado warnings, and those radios will broadcast the exercise message.

The drill will be conducted Wednesday, March 13, at 9 a.m. Public schools, state and local Emergency Management,
the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, and others will participate in this annual event. The purpose of the drill
is to test communication systems, safety procedures, mitigation processes, etc.

For further information on Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week, contact your county emergency management
director, SCEMD or your nearest National Weather Service office. SCEMD’s Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week
page can be found at



Prepare for any Emergency:

  • Develop an Emergency Action Plan for your home, place of business or other that includes what you would
    do in case of major emergency or disaster.
  • Develop a communication plan that enables you to reach out to family members when normal lines of
    communication are not functioning.
  • Have an emergency kit for your home, place of work and vehicle. Remember,"The First 72 are on You."



South Carolina has averaged 16 tornadoes each year since 1950, resulting in 58 fatalities and 1329 injuries. South Carolina
ranks twenty-sixth in the United States in the number of tornado strikes, and eighteenth in the number of tornadoes per square
mile. The most common type of tornado, the relatively weak and short-lived type, occurs between March and May. However,
tornadoes can occur almost anywhere at anytime. 

Before a Tornado

  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
  • Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train
  • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

During a Tornado

  • If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately.
  • Get indoors to a pre-designated shelter area such as a basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If
    there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away
    from corners, windows, doors and outside walls.
  • If in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby
    building or storm shelter.
  • If unable to get indoors, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be
    aware of potential flooding and flying debris.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

After a Tornado

  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Avoid downed power lines and report them to your utility company.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.


Do you know what the difference is between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?

Click any one of the images below to find out more about the differences.

watch Warning




In South Carolina, several variations of flood hazards occur due to the different effects of severe
thunderstorms, hurricanes, seasonal rains and other weather-related conditions. The State's low-lying
topography, combined with its humid subtropical climate, makes it highly vulnerable to inland or riverine
flooding. Riverine flooding occurs when the flow of rainwater runoff is greater than the carrying capacities
of the natural drainage systems. The largest riverine flood in South Carolina, based on the area affected,
was the 1903 flood. Relentless rains associated with warm moist air and a low-pressure system caused
this flood. The textile communities of Clifton and Pacolet were hardest hit. The Pacolet River rose as
much as 40 feet in an hour, resulting in the deaths of sixty-five people.

In comparison to riverine flooding, coastal flooding is usually the result of a severe weather system such
as a tropical storm or hurricane, which contains an element of high winds. The damaging effects of coastal
floods are caused by a combination of storm surge, wind, rain, erosion and battering by debris. In 1999,
three tropical systems resulted in over 24 inches of rain in Horry County. The Waccamaw River and
tributaries caused significant flooding throughout northeastern South Carolina. More recently, significant 
river and coastal flooding occurred with Hurricanes Matthew, Irma, Florence and Michael as well as the  
October floods of 2015.

Before a Flood

  • Avoid building in a flood prone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
  • Install check valves in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Contact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, berms or floodwalls)
    to stop floodwater from entering the homes in your area.
  • Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
  • Review your insurance policy. Flood coverage is not part of most homeowner, mobile home or renter’s
  • insurance policies. There is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect.

During a Flood

  • Be aware of potential flash flooding. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move to higher ground. Do not
    wait to be told to move.
  • If time allows, prepare your home for a flood by moving essential items to an upper floor, bring in outdoor
    furniture, disconnect electrical appliances and be prepared to turn off the gas, electricity and water.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water,
    walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher
    ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle could be quickly swept away.

After a Flood

  • After a flood, listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically
    charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Even if the roadway of a bridge or elevated highway
    looks normal, the support structures below may be damaged.
  • Stay clear of downed power lines and report them to your power company.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly to foundations. Stay
    out of any building that is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and other harmful