National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week For South Carolina

 March 3rd - 9th, 2024 



Please join us in promoting severe weather safety during this year's "Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week". The National Weather Service asks emergency management, public safety officials, local media and Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors to help join forces in improving the nation's readiness, responsiveness, and overall resilience against severe weather during the upcoming season. 


Be sure to check out Severe Weather Climatology for NWS Wilmington, NC 1991-2021.


Each day this week, a different topic will be covered. Click on the tabs below for more severe weather preparedness information.




Severe Weather Preparedness Week Overview & Types of Severe Weather


Statewide Tornado Drill scheduled for Wednesday, March 6th at 9:00 AM.


This week is South Carolina’s annual Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week.  The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) 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.  With warmer weather quickly approaching, now is the time to prepare for the severe weather season.  If each South Carolina resident would take a few moments this week to learn about severe weather and flood safety and implement a safety plan, then we would all be better off when severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding inevitably strike our state and the likelihood of injury and fatalities caused by severe weather and flooding could be minimized.


Severe weather and severe weather preparedness takes many forms, so each day this week we will highlight a different preparedness topic.  This week’s topics will include…


Severe Weather Preparedness Week Schedule


Day of The Week Topics
Sunday Types of Severe Weather
Monday Watches and Warnings
Tuesday Have Multiple Ways to Stay Connected

What to do During a Tornado 

Statewide Tornado Drill

Thursday FLOODING! Stats and Danger

Turn Around, Don't Drown & Flooding home safety tips

Saturday After the Storm (Storm damage reporting, recovery from storms and flooding, insurance, etc.)


On Wednesday, March 6th at 9:00 AM, the National Weather Service in cooperation with local broadcasters will conduct a statewide tornado drill. The alarm test, which will come in the form of a Test Tornado Warning, will activate the State Emergency Alert System and be carried by local radio broadcasters. Every school, business, and residence is encouraged to participate in this drill.  It’s really easy:  at 9:00 AM on March 6th, take a few moments to practice your severe weather safety plan, and seek shelter for a few minutes as if a tornado was headed your way.  Practicing this when the weather is good will allow you to react more quickly when the weather turns bad. 


Please visit the South Carolina Emergency Management preparedness website  On this web page you will find an abundance of information, and links to a free cell phone app, that will help you plan and prepare for the severe weather season.



Types of Severe Weather


Severe Thunderstorms

A thunderstorm is a local storm that produces lightning and thunder. Severe thunderstorms are officially defined as storms that are capable of producing hail that is an inch or larger or wind gusts over 58 mph. Hail this size can damage property such as plants, roofs, and vehicles. Wind this strong is able to break off large branches, knock over trees or cause structural damage.



A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year. South Carolina averages 20-25 tornadoes a year statewide.



Lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times a year. Although most lightning occurs in the summer, people can be struck at any time of year. Lightning kills 20 or more people in the U.S. each year, and hundreds more are severely injured. Most of these tragedies can be prevented. When thunderstorms threaten, get inside a building with plumbing and electricity, or a hard-topped metal vehicle!



Flooding is the number one storm-related killer in the United States (and second weather-related killer behind heat). Why? Most people fail to realize the power of water. More than 50 percent of flood-related deaths are due to someone driving or walking into floodwaters.



Severe Weather & Flooding Infographics







Watches & Warnings

Watches and Warnings

Do you know the difference between a National Weather Service Watches and Warnings for severe weather? These include Severe Thunderstorm, Tornado, and Flash Flood Watches and Warnings. A Watch means Be Prepared, as severe weather is possible in or near the watch area. A Warning means Take Action, as severe weather is expected imminently. Read more below about the various severe weather watches and warnings issued by the NWS.


Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Be Prepared! Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. Have multiple ways to receive warnings. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Take Action! Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter in a substantial building. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds. 


Tornado Watch: Be Prepared! Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! Have multiple ways to receive warnings. Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur, and typically covers a large area.

Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. 


Flash Flood Watch: Be Prepared! Flash flooding or flooding is possible within the watch area. Remain weather aware and be prepared to take action if a flash flood warning is issued for your area. Have multiple ways to receive warnings. Flood watches are issued by local NWS offices and typically encompass large areas.

Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! A flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area, move immediately to high ground. Never drive or walk through floodwaters. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.



Watch & Warning - Infographics







Stay Connected

Have Multiple Ways to Stay Connected


One of the keys to staying safe during the severe weather season is making sure that you have a way to receive lifesaving severe weather watches and warnings.  There are many methods and tools, some of which are available with no cost or fees, that you can use to receive these important lifesaving alerts no matter where you are - at home, at school, or at work. 



Methods To Receive Warnings

Day of The Week Topics
NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) NWR is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.  Specially built receivers, which can be purchased at most electronics and large retail stores for less than $40, receive the NWR broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and sound an audible alert when official watches and warnings are issued for your area. Think of these radios as a “smoke detector” for severe weather alerts. 
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) With WEA, emergency alerts can be sent to your cell phone or mobile device when you may be in harm's way, without need to download an app or subscribe to a service.  In addition to other alert types such as AMBER Alerts, this free service will transmit extreme weather warnings such as Tornado and Flash Flood warnings to your cell phone.  The alerts will look like a text message, and will typically show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take. WEA messages include a special tone and vibration.  If you receive a WEA message, you should follow any action advised by the emergency message. Seek more details from your favorite TV or radio station, NOAA Weather Radio, news website, desktop application, mobile application, or other trusted source of information.
Cell phone apps There are many great cell phone apps that provide real-time NWS warnings and alerts, some of which are free to download and use, and others that may charge a small fee.  A simple search of your app provider will reveal many of these apps.
Emergency Alert System (EAS) and your favorite TV and radio stations EAS is the message dissemination pathway that sends warnings via broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline services. EAS may be used by state and local authorities, including the National Weather Service, in cooperation with the broadcast community, to deliver important emergency information such as severe weather information, AMBER alerts, and local incident information targeted to specific areas.  In short, when severe weather strikes, it’s a good idea to tune to your favorite local TV or radio station or web site for detailed information about the severe weather threat. 



In addition to the aforementioned alerting system, many communities also offer free emergency alert notifications through their own systems, such as reverse 911 phone systems. Be sure to check with your local emergency management agency to learn what is available in your area.







Receiving Severe Weather Alerts Infographics







What to do During a Tornado (and Drill)


***On Wednesday, March 6th at 9:00 AM, the National Weather Service will conduct a statewide tornado drill***

The South Carolina tornado drill is conducted in close coordination with the South Carolina Broadcasters Association. The State Superintendent of Education is encouraging schools statewide to participate. The National Weather Service will 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" on NOAA Weather Radio.  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 6th, 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. 


During the drill

  • At Home: 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.
  • In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
  • At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or windowless room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.


What to Do Before a Tornado

Be alert to changing weather conditions, listen for latest weather information, and be prepared to take shelter immediately if a Tornado Warning is issued, or you observe any of 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


What to Do During a Tornado

When your area is under a tornado warning, or if you see a tornado approaching, you should seek shelter immediately!  Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.  The following are safety tips for seeking shelter during tornadoes.


If you are in a home or small business:
Go to the basement or a small interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hallway without windows on the lowest level. Put as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible. If possible, get under something sturdy, such as a heavy table, or use a mattress to protect yourself from flying debris. Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head. If available, put on a bicycle or motorcycle helmet to protect yourself from head injuries.


Tornado Safety



If you are in a large business, school, hospital, shopping center or factory:
Go to the designated shelter area. If a shelter area is not available, the best place is to go to an interior hallway on the lowest level. Stay away from the structurally weaker portions of buildings, such as windows and rooms with expansive roofs, which are more likely to collapse when tornadoes strike. 


Tornado Sheltering



If you are in a mobile home or home on stilts:
Get out and take shelter in a sturdy building or storm shelter. If there is not one nearby, take shelter in the most interior room that has no windows, such as an interior bathroom or closet.






If you are outside with no shelter available, there is no single research-based recommendation for what last-resort action to take, because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.


What to Do 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.



Did You Know There Are Different Types of Tornadoes?






FLOODING! Stats and Danger


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 chemicals.




Flooding Infographics








Turn Around, Don't Drown

Turn Around, Don't Drown & Flooding Home Safety Tips


Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. Over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in cars swept downstream. Many of these drownings are preventable. Never drive around the barriers blocking a flooded road. The road may have collapsed under that water.  A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away most cars and just 2 feet of rushing water can carry away SUVs and trucks. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.


Turn Around, Don't Drown Webpage




Flooding Home Safety Tips

Below are a few tips from the American Red Cross on protecting your home from floods:

  • If you live in a floodplain, elevate and reinforce your home to make damage less likely during a flood.
  • Check with a professional to:
    • ​Raise your furnace, water heater, and electrical panel to floods that are less likely to be flooded. An undamaged water heater may be your best source of fresh water after a flood.
    • Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains your home. (As a last resort, when floods threaten, use large corks or stopper to plug showers, tubs, or basins).
    • Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and flood walls to stop floodwater from entering the building (if permitted by local building codes).
    • Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage through cracks.
  • Use sand bags when flooding is expected:
    • ​It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, creating a wall one foot high and 20 feet long.
    • Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.
    • If a flood is expected, some communities will offer free sandbags to residents. Be sure to watch or listen to the news so you can access these resources.


Visit for additional information on preparing for floods.





After the Storm

After the Storm (Storm damage reporting, recovery from storms and flooding, insurance, etc.)


After severe weather hits, stay informed about current weather conditions and forecasts, contact your family and loved onesassess the damage, and avoid flood waters


If it is safe to do so, the National Weather Service depends on accurate reporting of severe weather in its mission to protect lives and property. We would like to hear of any significant weather phenomena that you observe, though we are particularly interested in receiving timely reports of tornadoes, one-inch (quarter-sized) and larger hail, damaging wind gusts and flash flooding. Best method of reporting storm reports varies by NWS office, and can be via phone, email, online form, and/or social media. Visit the webpages below for your local SC NWS office to learn more about how to report severe weather:


Wilmington, NC (ILM) 

Charleston, SC (CHS) 

Columbia, SC (CAE) 

Greenville-Spartanburg, SC (GSP)

South Carolina NWS Offices



Storm Recovery & Insurance

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division is dedicated to helping individuals and families return to normal and to facilitate the recovery of communities after a storm, from a small storm impacting a local community to a major disaster. The SCEMD coordinates with local, State, and  Federal partners, as well as non-governmental organizations and private industries, to ensure that all available resources for individuals and families are provided in a timely and efficient manner. Visit the SCEMD webpage for additional information on storm recovery help for individuals. 


Flood Insurance: The standard homeowner's insurance policy does not include coverage for flood damage, including damage resulting from street flooding, creek overflows or river flooding, or a hurricane's storm surge. If your area is at risk from flooding, you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home and property from damages due to flood. To learn more about flood insurance, ask your agent and visit







Deaf & Hard of Hearing





Severe Thunderstorm Safety (ASL Video)


Do you see a lot of strong thunderstorms in your area?
Check out this video in American Sign Language from the National Weather Service
to learn about what you need to know for the next big storm!




Tornado Safety (ASL Video)


You may only have seconds to get to your safe place when the next tornado occurs!

Learn where to shelter and how to get warning information from the National Weather Service with this video in American Sign Language!



See a Flash, Dash Inside (ASL Video)


If you are outdoors and see a flash of lightning or feel the rumble of thunder, dash inside immediately! Check out our Lightning Safety video in American Sign Language and captioned in English!


Flood Safety Video (ASL Video)


Did you know flooding is the leading cause of death due to storms? Learn more about Flood Safety with this video in American Sign Language and captioned in English!




NOAA Weather Radio (ASL Video)


NOAA Weather Radios receive warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day. Why would Deaf people want a radio? They can be used as a way to alert you or wake you up at night! Some come with flashing lights, vibrating alarm attachments, and color displays with text readouts for use by those with hearing loss.


General Safety and Preparedness Tips (ASL Video)


Having a plan is important in times of emergency, and this includes building an emergency preparedness kit before a disaster. Learn how with this video in American Sign Language.





Severe Weather Safety (Español)

Seguridad Meteorológica (Weather Safety)


Estar listo para los desastres requiere preparación, no la suerte. Conozca su riesgo, haga un plan y tenga un kit.


Su Lugar Seguro de Tornados (Your Safe Place from Tornadoes)


Los tornados pueden ser extremadamente peligrosos. Los lugares seguros incluyen refugios para tormentas y sótanos, pero si no están disponibles, una habitación interior sin ventanas también puede protegerle. Si recibe un aviso de tornado, ¡busque refugio de inmediato!


Tornado Safety



Su Lugar Seguro de Relámpagos (Your Safe Place from Lightning)


Los relámpagos caen en los EE. UU. 25 millones de veces al año, lo que a veces resulta en la muerte o lesiones permanentes. Usted está más seguro en interiores o dentro de un vehículo cerrado con techo rígido. Manténgase preparado para las condiciones del tiempo y obtenga más información sobre la seguridad contra relámpagos:


Tornado Safety




Su Lugar Seguro de Inundaciones (Your Safe Place from Flooding)


Durante una inundación, los niveles y velocidad del agua pueden cambiar rápidamente. Estará más seguro si permanece en un lugar interior o si busca un lugar alto si no hay refugio disponible. Si está atrapado afuera cuando ocurre una inundación repentina, no intente cruzar áreas inundadas con su vehículo o caminando. Obtenga más información sobre la seguridad contra inundaciones en





Su Lugar Seguro de Viento Extremo (Your Safe Place from Extreme Wind)


Durante vientos fuertes, se esperan daños a árboles y los objetos sueltos podrían volar por el aire y ser peligrosos. Usted está más seguro en lugares interiores, lejos de ventanas, en una habitación interior. Manténgase preparado para las condiciones del tiempo y obtenga más información sobre la seguridad de vientos fuertes:





Terminología De Tornados (Tornado Terminology)


Una VIGILANCIA de tornados significa ESTÉ PREPARADO. Un AVISO o una EMERGENCIA de tornado significa TOME ACCIÓN.
En caso de una vigilancia de tornados, preste mucha atención al tiempo y esté listo para actuar, porque existe la posibilidad de tornados. En caso de un aviso de tornado, busque refugio inmediatamente, y diríjase a una habitación interior en la planta más baja de un edificio seguro, porque un tornado está ocurriendo u ocurrirá pronto. Evite las ventanas y cúbrase la cabeza para protegerse de los escombros lanzados por el tornado. ¡Tomar acción de antemano puede ayudar a salvar vidas!





Terminologa De Tornados (Tornadoes and Road Safety)


Durante un tornado, buscar refugio en un vehículo o bajo un puente NO es seguro. Si está al aire libre durante un aviso de tornado, la mejor opción es conducir a un refugio designado, sótano o una habitación segura. #SpringSafety





Vigilancia vs Aviso de Tormentas Severas (Thunderstorm Watch vs. Warning)


Una VIGILANCIA de tormentas severas significa ESTÉ PREPARADO. ¡Un AVISO de tormenta severa significa TOME ACCIÓN! Si hay una vigilancia de tormentas severas en efecto, manténgase informado y esté listo para actuar, porque tormentas severas son posibles. En caso de un aviso de tormenta severa, refúgiese en un edificio seguro. Tiempo severo está ocurriendo u ocurrirá en breve.





 Aviso vs Vigilancia de Inundaciones (Flood Warning vs. Watch)


Un AVISO de inundación significa TOMAR ACCIÓN. Una VIGILANCIA de inundación significa PREPARARSE. Cuando se emite un Aviso, significa que inundaciones son inminentes o que ya están ocurriendo. Cuando una Vigilancia de Inundación está en efecto, significa que es posible que ocurra una inundación en su área. #FloodSafety





Graifica - El Ponder del Agua (Infographic - Power of Water)


No subestime el poder del agua. Sólo se necesitan 6 pulgadas de agua en rápido movimiento para derribar y arrastrar a un adulto, y 12 pulgadas de agua para arrastrar a un automóvil pequeño. ¡Dé la Vuelta, No Se Ahogue!












Local SC Severe Events


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Steve Pfaff ( for additional information about Severe Weather Preparedness.