With the start of the 2011 hurricane season in South Carolina, visions of the mass destruction caused by of Hugo in 1989 come to mind.
When a tropical system passes over the Midlands, however, residents are more likely to see focused damage from tropical tornadoes than the widespread damage caused by hurricane winds. Only three major hurricanes have made landfall in South Carolina in the past 60 years, but nearly every tropical system that moves inland – from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical depression – has the potential to spawn tornadoes.
For those who think hurricane season gets too much attention this far inland, here are some statistics to consider as you restock your disaster supplies:
• In 2004, five tropical systems crossed portions of South Carolina, dropping 76 tornados onto the state, according to a study compiled by Mark Malsick, severe weather liaison at the State Climate Office. That year, Frances, with 48 tornadoes in the state according to the National Weather Service, was one of the worst ever, while Charley, Gaston, Ivan and Jeanne added to the total.
• Much of the state was in a tornado watch for at least 24 hours during Frances, according to the weather service. Frances’ tornadoes injured 13, including a Sumter County woman inside a mobile home tossed 100 feet and smashed into another home. The tornadoes caused $2.77 million in damage statewide.