National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Damaging wind gusts occurred across portions of eastern North and South Carolina during the morning of March 12, 2022 along and ahead of a strong cold front.  The highest winds occurred along the coast and offshore where an anemometer atop Frying Pan Tower recorded a gust to 97 mph at 10:45 am EST. 

Radar loop from Saturday, Mrach 12, 2022

Radar loop from Saturday, March 12, 2022.  The cold front and squall line swept across the area during the morning hours.


A weather balloon released and tracked by the Newport/Morehead City NWS office at 7 am Saturday morning recorded wind speeds of 67 mph just 2,000 feet above ground level.  These strong winds aloft mixed down to to the surface, knocking down numerous trees and causing power outages across the Grand Strand and Cape Fear areas between 8 and 9 am. 

A tornado watch was in effect Saturday morning for coastal portions of North and South Carolina.  No reports of tornado touchdowns were received, but the squall line along the cold front brought another burst of damaging winds along with thunderstorms and briefly heavy rain.

The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office shared this picture of a tree down on U.S. Highway 74/76 shortly before 10 AM on Saturday, and also reported Saw Mill Rd and Old Lanville Rd were closed due to downed power lines.


Since deciduous trees had not yet leafed out, overall wind damage was less than would have occurred during summer thunderstorms.  The relatively brief duration of the strong winds also helped prevent more damage.

The following table contains many of the peak wind gust reports gathered by the National Weather Service on Saturday.


Location County State Gust (mph)
Frying Pan Tower (85 foot level) offshore NC 97
Federal Point (Weatherflow) New Hanover NC 77
Wrightsville Beach - Mercer Pier New Hanover NC 73
Oak Island (Weatherflow) Brunswick NC 72
Wilmington - Airport New Hanover NC 68
Winyah Bay (Weatherflow) Georgetown SC 67
Wilmington - Seagate New Hanover NC 66
Wilmington - UNC-Wilmington New Hanover NC 66
Frying Pan Shoals Buoy offshore NC 63
Wilmington - Myrtle Grove New Hanover NC 62
Murrells Inlet (Weatherflow) Georgetown SC 62
Myrtle Beach - Springmaid Pier Horry SC 59
Surf City Pier Pender NC 57
Myrtle Beach - Airport Horry SC 55
Bald Head Island - NC Econet Brunswick NC 54
North Myrtle Beach - Airport Horry SC 54
Lockwoods Folly Inlet (Weatherflow) Brunswick NC 52
Georgetown - Airport Georgetown SC 52
Sunny Point Military Terminal Brunswick NC 51
Wilmington - Kings Grant New Hanover NC 50
Holly Shelter Gameland Pender NC 49
Lumberton Robeson NC 49
Darlington County Jetport Darlington SC 48
Castle Hayne - NC Econet New Hanover NC 47
Ocean Isle Beach Brunswick NC 46
Little River Horry SC 46


Hourly Wind Gusts analyzed by the RTMA

Hourly Wind Gusts analyzed by the Real Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA) system.  This loop runs from 6:00 AM until Noon EST on Saturday March 12, 2022.


A more detailed list of local peak wind gust observations is available here:


Cold air surged in behind the front and led to falling temperatures Saturday afternoon.  A hard freeze occurred Saturday night into Sunday morning with temperatures measured in the upper 20s at the beaches and as cold as 21 degrees in Hartsville and 19 degrees in Kingstree, SC.

This was actually the second time this year where widespread strong winds have occurred across the eastern Carolinas.  On January 3 a line of strong to severe thunderstorms developed along a cold front and produced numerous 50 to 60 mph wind gusts across the area.



Research & Page Author: Tim Armstrong
Last Updated: March 13, 2022