National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Tropical Cyclone History For Southeast South Carolina

and Northern Portions of Southeast Georgia

Updated: July 16, 2020

The data below is mainly based on the official Atlantic basin tropical cyclone (TC) database (HURDAT) which includes known tropical depressions (TD), tropical storms (TD) and hurricanes (H) back to 1851. Refer to the National Hurricane Center's data archive for more information on HURDAT and other historical TC data and to NOAA's Historical Hurricane Tracks website to plot tracks of past storms. 

Storm Statistics:

  • All TCs:
    • Since official records began in 1851 through 2018, 306 TCs tracked through a domain roughly centered around the NWS Charleston, SC County Warning Area (CWA) (Charleston County, SC southward through McIntosh County, GA).  
      • Most TCs occurred during the typically busier period in the Atlantic basin from August through October, but June and July were also fairly active followed by May and November. The earliest TC occurred in February (1952). Note that the 10 TCs that occurred during two months were counted twice.
      • There is a general increasing trend of early (prior to June) and late (after October) season TCs, possibly related to better observations in more recent years.
      • Since 1950, although more TCs occurred overall during "cool" El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions (e.g., La Nina), there was a preference for TCs earlier in the year to occur during "warm" ENSO conditions (e.g., El Nino). Also, interestingly the 7 major hurricanes (Cat 3+) occurred during neutral/La Nina conditions.
      • Since 1979, most TCs occurred when the average of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Indices 6 and 7 were either "neutral" (-0.5 to 0.5) or "positive" (>0.5). 
  • TCs By Month Passing Through the Study Domain
  • Early/Late Season TCs By Decade
  • TCs Since 1950 By Month/ENSO Phase
  • TCs Since 1950 By Strength/ENSO Phase
  • TCs Since 1979 by Average of MJO Indices 6/7
  • Landfalling TCs:
    • Since official records began in 1851 through 2018, 41 TCs (as highlighted in red in the table below) have made landfall in the NWS Charleston, SC CWA.
      • Twenty five (25) of these storms were hurricanes, 9 were TSs, and 7 were TDs. Charleston County, SC has seen the most landfalls (16) followed by Beaufort County, SC (10) and Chatham County, GA (6).
      • Most landfalling TCs by far occurred in August (12) and September (12) with the earliest landfalls in May (2) and the latest landfalls in October (7).
      • There has been a general upward trend in the number of weaker TCs making landfall and a general downward trend in the number of major (Cat 3-5) landfalling hurricanes.
      • Since 1950 most landfalling TCs occurred during "neutral" El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions with a slight preference for "warm" ENSO (i.e., El Nino) conditions versus "cold" ENSO (i.e., La Nina) conditions.
      • Since 1950 there is a slight preference for TCs to make landfall during the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) than during the negative phase. 
      • Since 1950 there is no preference for TCs to make landfall during the positive or negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation (AO).
  • NWS Charleston, SC Landfalling Tropical Cyclones By Decade
  • NWS Charleston, SC Landfalling Tropical Cyclones By Month
  • NWS Charleston, SC Landfalling Tropical Cyclones By El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Phase
  • NWS Charleston, SC Landfalling Tropical Cyclones By Climate Regime

 

Notable Storms:

Year
Date(s)
Name/#
Notes/Impacts
1600s
1686 Sep 4-5 "Spanish Repulse Hurricane" Drove ships onto land, destroyed crops, houses and livestock, and killed many people.
1700s
1700 Sep 14 "Rising Sun Hurricane" Produced severe storm surge flooding and caused damage to several ships, including the 800-ton Scottish ship "Rising Sun" and 100+ deaths.
1713 Sep 16-17 "Great Storm" Hurricane made landfall north of Charleston causing significant property damage and at least 70 deaths.
1752 Sep 13-15 "Great Hurricane" Very strong hurricane made landfall just south of Charleston and produced severe storm surge flooding, much property and crop damage and at least 95 deaths. It is likely the worst storm to ever hit Charleston and it occurred around the transition from the Julian to Gregorian calendars.
1800s
1822 Sep 27   Landfall just north of Charleston, SC as a rather small Cat 3 hurricane. Severe damage occurred, mainly around the Santee River. 
Official Records Begin in 1851
1854 Sep 6-9 "Great Carolina Hurricane" Landfall just south of Savannah, GA as a rather large Cat 3 hurricane and then rather slowly tracked just east of Statesboro, GA as a Cat 1 hurricane before weakening to a TS as it crossed the Savannah River into Allendale County, SC. Savannah recorded a minimum pressure of 973 mb (28.74 in Hg) with 90 mph winds.  Although most of the significant wind damage was near/south of Charleston,SC,  substantial storm surge flooding occurred northward to around the Santee River. 
1867 Jun 21-23   Landfall at Isle of Palms, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane and then weakened to a TS before moving through the Pee Dee and into central NC.
1874 Sep 27-28   Landfall on Seabrook Island, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane. Produced downed telegraph lines in Charleston and extensive damage to rice crops along with 2 deaths.
1878 Sep 10-12   Landfall just south of Charleston, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane. Produced significant crop damage.
1881 Aug 27-28   Landfall just south of Savannah, GA as a Cat 2 hurricane with winds ~105 mph before moving west into central GA and weakening into a TS. Produced significant surge flooding, property/crop damage and 700 U.S. deaths.
1884 Sep 9-13   Landfall south of Savannah, GA on St. Catherine's Island as a TS. Weakened to a TD over land and re-curved out to sea off the SC coast before re-strengthening to a TS.
1885 Aug 24-25   Landfall at Kiawah Island, SC as a Cat 2 hurricane causing significant damage northward through around Pawley's Island.
1893 Aug 27-28 "Great Sea Islands Hurricane" Landfall just south of Savannah, GA as a Cat 3 hurricane with winds near 115 mph. Moved north-northeast through the SC Midlands and weakened to a Cat 1 hurricane before reaching Columbia, SC. The storm hit near high tide and produced a catastrophic storm surge of 16+ feet, significant damage northward through around Charleston, and 1,000-2,000 deaths in the U.S. (mostly due to the storm surge). Downtown Savannah was spared complete inundation. The storm essentially marked the beginning of the end of the phosphate industry in the area.
1893 Oct 12-13   Moved northeast off the coasts of GA before making landfall along the SC coast just north of Charleston as a compact Cat 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds and minimum central pressure of 955 mb. Produced significant flooding due to already wet ground from previous storms.
1894 Sep 26-27   Landfall on Hilton Head Island, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane before moving northeast and passing just west of Charleston with winds around 80 mph.
1896 Sep 29   Tracked through southeast GA as a Cat 2/3 hurricane and through southeast SC as a Cat 1/2 hurricane. Produced significant wind damage around Savannah, GA and Beaufort, SC. 
1898 Aug 30-31   Landfall on Hilton Head Island, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane. Produced significant wind damage around Savannah and saltwater from the storm surge wrecked rice crops along the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers.
1898 Oct 1-3   Landfall on Cumberland Island, GA as a Cat 4 hurricane with winds near 130 mph. Moved northwest into central GA and weakened to a Cat 1 hurricane over Telfair County and then to a TS southwest of Macon. Produced a storm tide near 20 feet on Jekyll Island (with some significant flooding even around Savannah, GA), significant property damage across southeast GA and 179 U.S. deaths.
1900s
1911 Aug 27-30   Landfall on Hilton Head Island, SC as a Cat 2 hurricane with winds near 100 mph. Moved slowly westward and weakened into a TS before reaching Statesboro, GA.Winds reached 110 mph in Beaufort, SC, 96 mph in Savannah, GA, 95 mph winds on Edisto Island, SC and 94 mph at Charleston, SC (before the anemometer broke) causing many trees, power lines, and telephone lines to fall. A significant storm surge produced extensive flood damage, especially from around Beaufort to Charleston. Much of the rice crops were destroyed, effectively ending the region's rice industry.
1912 Jul 14-16   Landfall near Altamaha Sound, GA as a TS. Slowly moved west across southern GA producing heavy rain.
1912 Sep 5-6   TS moved southwest off the SC coast before weakening into a TD and then making landfall on Ossabaw Island, GA.
1913 Oct 7-10   Landfall on Cape Island, SC just north of Charleston as a Cat 1 hurricane. Produced heavy rain, especially in northeast SC, including 4"+ at Charleston. 
1916 May 15-16   Landfall on Fripp Island, SC as a TS. 
1916 Jul 13-15   Landfall at Bulls Bay, SC as a Cat 2 hurricane. The storm moved slowly and produced very heavy rain which caused severe river flooding.  Damage was significant, mostly north of Charleston and likely the worst in that area since the 1822 storm.
1916 Oct 3-5   Landfall at Sapelo Island, GA as a TS.
1927 Oct 2-3   Landfall near Edisto Beach, SC as a TS. 
1928 Sep 18 "Lake Okeechobee Hurricane" Landfall near Beaufort, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane. Produced some wind damage, mainly downed trees and power/phone lines, 11"+ of rain in Savannah, GA which caused significant flooding and ~$1 million in damage in Charleston.
1940 Aug 10-13   Landfall near Hilton Head Island, SC as a Cat 2 hurricane with winds near 100 mph. Produced significant storm surge, 10+ inches of rain (mostly across SC) and at least 33 deaths. The sea level pressure dropped to 28.81 in Hg (976 mb) at Savannah, which ties for the 3rd lowest reading on record.
1945 Sep 16-17   Landfall near the GA/SC border as a TS. Produced gusts near 90 mph at Paris Island, SC, moderate flooding, and tornadoes with $6-7 million damage.
1947 Oct 14-16   Landfall on Ossabaw Island, GA just south of Savannah as a Cat 2 hurricane with winds near 105 mph and minimum central pressure of 966 mb. Produced minor to moderate damage in Savannah as well as above normal tides in Charleston where minor flooding occurred. The sea level pressure dropped to 28.77 in Hg (974 mb) at Savannah, the lowest ever recorded there.
1950 Sep 6-7 Easy TD moved through southern GA. Produced very heavy rainfall, especially across coastal GA where 15+ inches fell (Savannah, GA recorded 16" inches).
1952 Aug 30-31 Able Landfall near Beaufort, SC as a Cat 2 hurricane with sustained winds near 100 mph and minimum central pressure near 980 mb. Produced 90 mph winds at Beaufort, heavy rainfall over eastern SC and 2 deaths and $3 million in damage in SC.
1953 Aug 31-Sep 1   TS approached the GA coast but weakened into a TD before making landfall south of Savannah, GA. The storm then moved inland through southeast GA and dissipated over central GA.
1954 Oct 14-15 Hazel Landfall near the SC/NC border as a Cat 4 hurricane with sustained winds near 130 mph. Caused 95 deaths in the U.S. and was one of the worst storms on record in SC with significant damage, mainly from Pawleys Island northward. 
1959 Jul 4-9 Cindy Landfall just north of Charleston, SC near Bulls Bay as a Cat 1 hurricane with winds near 75 mph winds. 64 mph winds were recorded at McClellanville along with 1 death. Storm tides were ~4 feet above normal and heavy rain fell. 
1959 Sep 28-30 Gracie Landfall near Beaufort, SC as a Cat 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph and minimum pressure of 951 mb. Moved northwest past Columbia and weakened into a TS before moving into NC producing heavy rainfall which led to significant flooding as well as severe crop damage. A storm surge of nearly 9 feet occurred at Charleston Harbor, but this would have been much worse if the storm hit at high tide instead of low tide. The highest recorded storm tide was ~12 feet above mean low water (MLW) at Edisto Beach. The relatively slow speed helped lead to extensive damage from wind and surge across southeast SC, mainly in the Beaufort to Charleston corridor, along with 10 deaths in GA and SC. For more info, check out the NHC's archive
1960 Sep 11 Donna Landfall in the FL Keys as a Cat 4 hurricane and then moved northeast while weakening to a Cat 1 and then re-strengthening to a Cat 2 off the SC coast. Produced heavy rain, gusts near 70 mph on the coast near Charleston, tides ~2 feet above normal and a tornado that injured ~10 people and caused considerable damage in the Charleston area.
1971 Sep 10-11   Landfall near Charleston, SC as a TD and then dissipated before moving west into GA.
1976 Aug 19-21 Dottie Landfall near Charleston, SC as a TS before dissipating north of Lake Moultrie. 
1979 Jun 15-16   TD approached the central SC coast from the south and made landfall near Kiawah Island before dissipating east of Columbia. Produced ~1-3 inches of rainfall across the area.
1979 Sep 4-5 David Landfall on Sapelo Island, GA as a Cat 2 hurricane. Produced 5 tornadoes, very heavy rainfall (including 6.86" at Savannah), significant storm surge and beach erosion and ~$10 million in damage in SC. 
1981 Jul 3   TD moved north along the FL east coast and made landfall on Fripp Island, SC.
1985 Jul 24-25 Bob Landfall on Fripp Island, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane. Produced a 44 mph wind gust in downtown Charleston, SC and a 48 mph gust at Folly Beach, SC. 5" of rain fell at the Charleston Airport.
1988 Aug 28 Chris Landfall near Savannah, GA as a TS. Produced heavy rainfall (~3 inches over eastern SC).
1989 Sep 21-22 Hugo Landfall at Sullivan's Island, SC as a Cat 4 hurricane with sustained winds near 140 mph producing very significant damage near Charleston. The peak wind gust in Downtown Charleston was 108 mph, at Folly Beach it was 107 mph and in North Charleston at the airport it was 98 mph. Landfall occurred just before high tide but still resulted in peak storm tides of ~20 feet above mean sea level at Romain Retreat, SC and 10-12 feet above mean sea level in Charleston Harbor. Rainfall amounts were limited due to the fast motion of the storm, although up to ~10 inches still occurred in southeast SC (highest total was 10.28 inches at Edisto Island). Check out our video series about the storm and its impacts!
1999 Sep 15 Floyd Floyd was a large and intense Cape Verde storm that pounded parts of the Bahamas and threatened the entire Southeast U.S. coast. Floyd neared Cat 5 intensity in the Bahamas; however, it weakened thereafter and was a Cat 2 as it made landfall near Cape Fear, NC. Produced a 53 mph wind gust at the Savannah Airport and an 85 mph gust in downtown Charleston. The minimum pressure at the Charleston Airport was 989.5 mb while rainfall totaled ~4 inches at the Charleston Airport and in downtown Charleston.
2000s
2002 Oct 11-12 Kyle Moved north-northeast along the GA/SC coasts before making landfall near McClellanville, SC as a TS. Produced heavy rainfall across coastal southeast GA and southeast SC (2.25 inches at the Savannah Airport and 4.91 inches at the Charleston Airport) as well as an F-2 tornado in Georgetown, SC.
2003 Jul 25-26 #7 TD developed off the FL coast near Daytona Beach and moved northwest before making landfall at Sapelo Island, GA and then dissipating over central GA. Produced heavy rainfall, including ~5 inches near Savannah.
2004 Aug 14 Charley Landfall at Cape Romain, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane. Produced a peak wind gust of 38 mph and 1.02 inches of rain at the Charleston Airport.
2004 Aug 29-30 Gaston Landfall near Awendaw, SC as a Cat 1 hurricane. Produced a peak wind gust of 55 mph and 4.05 inches of rain at the Charleston Airport and 4.63 inches in Downtown Charleston.
2004 Sep 5-7 Frances Landfall on the FL coast near Stuart as a Cat 2 hurricane. The storm then moved into the northeast Gulf of Mexico and made a second landfall along the Big Bend area of FL as a TS before moving into western GA and dissipating into a TD. 20 tornadoes were documented across southeast SC and northern portions of southeast GA.
2004 Sep 26-28 Jeanne Landfall near Stuart, FL as a Cat 3 hurricane. The storm then moved up the west coast of FL and weakened into a TS before continuing into central GA and upstate SC as a TD. The storm produced ~1-3 inches of rain and 6 confirmed weak tornadoes across southeast SC and northern portions of southeast GA.
2005 Oct 5-6 Tammy Landfall near Atlantic Beach, FL as a TS. Moved northwest into southeast GA before weakening into a TD. Produced very heavy rainfall over southeast GA/SC, including localized amounts near 10 inches, especially over southeast GA where over 14 inches fell around Darien causing significant flooding.
2006 Jun 13-14 Alberto Landfall along the Big Bend area of FL as a TS. Moved northeast into southeast GA and weakened to a TD before moving into central SC and becoming an extra-tropical storm. Produced ~2-5 inches of rain across southeast SC/GA (3.29 inches of rain at the Savannah Airport and 2.51 inches at the Charleston Airport) with locally higher amounts near 7 inches (7.05" at Rincon, GA). In addition, 7 tornadoes were documented across southeast SC/GA in NWS Charleston's County Warning Area. 
2016 May 28-30 Bonnie Developed north of the Bahamas and strengthened into a TS as it move northwest toward the GA/SC coasts, eventually weakening to a TD before making landfall near Charleston. Produced heavy rainfall (widespread 3-7 inches with local amounts over 10 inches), mainly north of I-16, which led to significant flooding.
2016 Jun 6-7 Colin Developed north of the Yucatan Peninsula and moved northeast while strengthening into a TS before making landfall around the Big Bend area of FL. Moved through southeast GA and then near the SC coast as a TS. Produced heavy rainfall (mainly 2-3 inches with locally higher amounts over 4 inches), which led to some flooding. Also produced some coastal flooding due to high storm tides.
2016 Sep 1-3 Hermine Made landfall around the Big Bend area of FL as a Cat 1 hurricane and then moved northeast just inland through southeast GA and SC as a TS. Produced widespread tropical storm force wind gusts (60+ mph near the coast), heavy rainfall (widespread 3-5 inches with locally higher amounts over 8 inches toward the SC Midlands), and 2 EF-1 tornadoes (1 in Liberty County, GA and 1 in Chatham County, GA). 
2016 Sep 14-15 Julia Developed near Jacksonville, FL as a TS and moved north and then northeast near the GA coast and then southern SC coast before moving east away from the coast and weakening to a TD. The storm then meandered well offshore while strengthening into a TS again and then weakening into a TD before dissipating.
2016 Oct 7-8 Matthew Moved north and then northwest through the Caribbean Sea and then through the Bahamas while strengthening to a Category 4 hurricane. Tracked just off the east coast of FL and GA while weakening to a Category 1 storm before making landfall near McClellanville, SC with winds near 85 mph. Produced hurricane force wind gusts along the entire coast, significant coastal flooding from high storm tides (including a record level at Fort Pulaski), and very heavy rainfall (widespread 6 to 12 inches with locally higher amounts near 17 inches) which led to significant freshwater flooding. 
2017 Sep 10-11 Irma Made landfall in the FL Keys as a Cat 4 hurricane and then moved along the southwest coast of FL as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm then moved north near the west coast of FL while weakening to a TS before moving into southwest GA and continuing to weaken. Produced significant coastal flooding, rainfall flooding, and river flooding as well as near hurricane-force wind gusts and 4 tornadoes.
2019 Sep 4-5 Dorian Cat 3 hurricane slowly moved north off the GA coast and then more northeast off the SC coast while weakening to a Cat 2 hurricane. Produced sustained tropical storm force winds, hurricane force wind gusts, heavy rain and some coastal flooding, especially along the SC coast. 

 

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