South Carolina 2009 Weather in Review
South Carolina State Climatology Office
South Carolina Department Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
A hard freeze was reported on New Year's Day, Thursday morning. The temperature at Cheraw dropped to 15 degrees. On January 4, Shaw AFB and nearby McEntire ANGB reported dense fog with visibilities of less than one-tenth of a mile. Pritchardville and the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station both warmed to 75 degrees. Areas of heavy rain fell across the Upstate from January 5 and 6. Table Rock measured an event total of 3.83 inches. Strong winds during the day mixed to the surface with gusts peaking at 59 mph over the Florence AP. The heaviest 24-hour rainfall reported was 2.70 inches at Caesars Head ending at 7:00 a.m. on January 7. A strong cold wave overspread the state on January 15 and on the next day, minimum temperatures across the mountains were the areas lowest since January of 2003. The lowest temperature reported was 1 degree at Caesars Head on January 16. After an overcast and cold January 19, snow began falling January 20 across the Piedmont and as far south as Lady's Island near Beaufort. The three-tenths of an inch at Edisto Island was the location's most measureable snow since December 24, 1989. Catawba, in York County, measured 3 inches of snow but there were unofficial reports of up to six inches around Pageland. The layer of snow set the stage for Caesars Head to record a minimum temperature on January 21 of 5 degrees. On January 23, Pritchardville reported a high temperature of 69 degrees. Even warmer weather was reported on January 28 with Longtown noting 76 degrees. A cold front worked southeastward on January 28 producing rainshowers and strong winds. The Lake Murray wind sensor recorded a gust of 46 mph.
On February 4, a second, upper-level feature brought snowshowers to locations as far south as Mt. Pleasant. Portions of Chesterfield County received up to 3 inches of snow. Stinging wind chill values accompanied the cold, dry air. Bonneau Beach, along the Lake Moultrie shoreline, measured winds gusting to 46 mph. The lowest official temperature reported along with the arctic surge of air was 3 degrees at Walhalla Hatchery on February 5. A long awaited, spring-like day was observed on February 8 with the mercury climbing into the middle 70's. Lake Bowen, in Spartanburg County, rebounded from a nine-degree minimum temperature on February 5 to a 75 degree high temperature on February 8. The state's highest temperature reading was given to the University of South Carolina with 79 degrees on February 9. On February 18 the season's first return to thunderstorms produced one-inch hail at Pickens and wind gusts of 44 mph at North Myrtle Beach AP. Pockets of heavy rain fell across the central counties. Camden measured 2.86 inches of rain during the event. Early spring-like temperatures were observed again on February 27 with Jamestown and Cades reporting 76 degrees.
A vigorous and cold low pressure feature dropped southeastward into the state on March 1 changing rain to snow for the Piedmont and sites within the mountains. A belt of heavy snow fell from Anderson County over to Cherokee County with Gaffney measuring 7 inches. Snowflakes were seen as far south as Bluffton in Beaufort County. Gaffney also reported a rainfall event total of 4.53 inches. The 25-degree minimum on March 4 at Beaufort was their coldest March morning in thirteen years. The mercury continued climbing into the weekend with much of the state warming to around 80 degrees on March 7. For Columbia, this was the first 80-degree mark since October 17, 2008. The highest official temperature reported was 83 degrees at Camden on March 7 and at Cheraw and Jamestown on March 8. Jumping ahead of the calendar, summer-like heat overspread the Midlands on March 11 with 88 degrees being recorded at the USC campus in Columbia. On March 22, temperatures dropped to near freezing with scattered reports of frost. The lowest temperature reported was 28 degrees at Chesnee on March 22. A nearly stationary boundary remained draped across the state through March 28 with periods of rain, some heavy and with thunder. During the four-day stretch from March 25-28, Table Rock measured 3.92 inches of rain, Jocassee Dam, 3.55 inches. The mild conditions jump-started spring flowering while the wet weather helped rinse early surface coatings of tree pollen. Drying sunshine returned on March 29 with building high pressure and strong westerly winds gusting to 44 mph at the Florence AP. Table Rock finished the month of March with 8.66 inches of rain.
Heavy rains on April 2 caused temporary disruptions to travel on the Charleston peninsula. Edisto Beach measured a three-day rainfall event total of 5.30 inches. On April 5, Mullins warmed to 83 degrees. Late season cold overspread the state on April 7 with a "trace" of snow reported at both Caesars Head and Table Rock. A fast-moving frontal boundary collided against the spring conditions on April 10 producing a deadly and damaging tornadic outbreak. Tornadoes occurred in Oconee, Pickens, Anderson, Union, Abbeville, Greenwood, Union and Aiken counties. The twisters within the counties of Allendale and Abbeville, rated EF2, and Aiken County, rated EF3, caused substantial damage and property loss. Parts of Greenwood and Anderson counties were pelted with 1.75-inch diameter hail. The heaviest 24-hour rainfall reported was 2.77 inches at Hunts Bridge ending at 7:00 a.m. on April 11. Chesterfield and Jamestown both recorded 80 degrees on April 18. A return to cold conditions on April 22 produced 30-degree readings at the usual cold locations. At 3:00 pm on April 22, Greenville observed a relative humidity value of 11 percent. During the 24-hour period from April 22-23, the Sandhill observation site noted an open pan evaporation water loss of 0.44 inches. A wildfire began April 22 within Horry County, fanned by west winds gusting to 38 mph at the Marion Airport and 35 mph at the N Myrtle Beach Airport. An estimated 30 square miles of forest and residential property were eventually consumed. The season's first reminder of summer heat came on April 24 with Camden reporting 95 degrees. At month's end, the N. Myrtle Beach Airport had received only 1.26 inches of rain during April.
On May 4, golf ball-sized hail fell in parts of Summerville and Berkeley counties, with reports of funnel clouds in both Newberry and Dorchester counties and a possible tornado near the Cross Hill community in Laurens County. At 7:11 p.m., the Marion County Airport measured winds gusting to 69 mph. During the first ten days of April, Dillon received 4.18 inches of rain and Long Creek 4.59 inches. On May 13, deep-layer surface winds shifted to a more onshore direction and by May 14 the airmass had become quite tropical in nature. Slow-moving thunderstorms on May 14 produced localized flooding near the Charleston Airport as 0.67 inches of rain fell in fourteen minutes. Florence established a date record "lowest maximum" temperature on May 18 with only 63 degrees as did Charleston with only 59 degrees. On May 25, drenching thunderstorms were reported within the state. At the Clemson University Blackville station, 0.55 inches of rain fell in 5 minutes and 2.44 inches of a 4.01 inch, 24-hour total fell in one hour. High temperatures of 95 degrees were shared by Lake Wateree, Camden, Manning, Bamberg and Givhans on May 31. At month's end, Long Creek in Oconee County had received 12.33 inches of rain.
Manning started June with a maximum temperature of 97 degrees. On June 4, a cyclonic feature drifted north towards South Carolina from the Gulf Coast states. Waves of repeating showers dropped heavy rains over the Piedmont portions of the state. A lone thunderstorm over the Mt. Pleasant Airport produced 1.22 inches of rain within 40 minutes. The June 10 heavy rain event over the Columbia Airport included a rainfall intensity rate of 0.76 inches in seven minutes. On the same day, and for the first time since August of 2006, no area of the state was under a drought declaration. At 4:45 p.m. on June 11, the Greer NWS office registered a thunderstorm peak wind of 76 mph. Just a day later on June 12, the Hilton Head AP measured a violent wind of 92 mph during an apparent downburst at an estimated time of 10:45 p.m. On June 16 at 7:55 p.m., McEntire ANG AP was raked by winds gusting to 68 mph. Cloud tops, rising nearly 12 miles high, contributed to updrafts and hail formation described as "baseball-sized" (2.75-inch diameter) which fell at Piedmont in Greenville County. Shade temperatures on June 20 reached 99 degrees at Sandy Run and Johnston. The year's first 100 degree temperatures were recorded on June 27 with Manning and Barnwell noting 101 degrees. On June 29, the Hilton Head Airport observed a heat index value of 117 degrees. At the end of June, Ft. Moultrie had received 9.97 inches of rain.
Drying heat resulted in a 24-hour open pan water evaporation loss of 0.52 inches at Sandhill on July 1. A cool airmass dropped into the state on July 4 with early morning temperatures falling to 56 degrees at Cedar Creek and Pageland. On July 6, hot and humid conditions helped with the formation of afternoon scattered thunderstorms over central and eastern counties. Manning received 3.62 inches of rain and Cades measured 3.17 inches. The heaviest 24-hour rainfall reported was 4.15 inches at Charleston AP on July 8. More cool air returned for July 11 with both Ft. Moultrie and Jamestown recording morning lows of 64 degrees. Near record cold temperatures were reported across central and western counties on the morning of July 19. Saluda, Little Mountain and Johnston all recorded a late September-like 58 degrees. On July 22, the convergence of a sea-breeze boundary and weak frontal boundary helped produce a "cloudburst" across parts of Lexington and Richland counties. The Columbia Metropolitan Airport received 1.98 inches of rain in thirty minutes. At the end of July, Andrews, in Georgetown County, had received 8.54 inches of rain while the Anderson County Airport had only received 0.74 inches.
On August 5, weather observation instruments within the Savannah River Plant complex recorded a 73 mph wind gust during the afternoon around 5:00 p.m. Cool weather was noted on the morning of August 6 with the Walhalla Hatchery (Jocassee) recording a low temperature of 58 degrees. Only four days later, the heat of late summer would be evident by the University of South Carolina campus recording a high temperature of 103 degrees on August 11. Widely scattered, tropical-type thunderstorms on August 20 produced 3.03 inches of rain at Longtown. The circulation around an upper level feature, located over the Florida panhandle, began to force storms onshore over the southern South Carolina on August 27. The Charleston Airport measured a two-day rainfall total through August 28 of 3.30 inches. On the morning of the last day of August, an apparent "downburst," with winds estimated at between 60-70 mph, swept through the Charleston Southern University campus. Ft. Moultrie received 2.50 inches of rain during the storm event.
A fall-like airmass overspread the state on September 1. On the morning of September 4, it was 53 degrees at Cedar Creek. Darkening skies on the evening of September signaled the formation of strong storms that resulted in large hail falling over parts of Newberry and Spartanburg counties. Woodruff was soaked with a two-day rain total of 2.65 inches. Low temperatures on September 11 fell to 55 degrees at the Marlboro County Jetport in Bennettsville. Needed rains fell during the third week of September. The heaviest official 24-hour rainfall reported was 8.38 inches at Walhalla ending at 7:00 a.m. on September 21. The Walhalla Hatchery (Jocassee) measured an event total of 17.50 inches of rain during the six-day stretch between September 15-21. Just a few days after the calendar change of seasons on September 25, Camden reported 96 degrees. During the evening of September 28, a seasonal, cooler airmass replaced the exiting, late-summer heat. The Marlboro County Jetport's low temperature of 45 degrees on September 29 was a drop of 48 degrees overnight. At the end of September, Jocassee had received 19.76 inches of rain while Cades, located in Williamsburg County, had only measured 0.13 inches.
Fall was quite evident on October 1 with Jocassee reporting 40 degrees. The undecided nature of seasonal change was once again evident on October 9 with afternoon heat and high humidity. Georgetown and Bamberg both recorded maximum temperatures of 91 degrees. A nearly stationary boundary became the avenue for a long-duration rain event beginning before sunrise on October 12. The heaviest totals fell from Anderson County to near Florence County. Pelion measured 3.82 inches in 24-hours. On the morning of October 18, the northern Richland County "cold spot" of Cedar Creek chilled to 34 degrees. Parts of the state observed the first frost of the season on October 19. The lowest official temperature reported was 28 degrees at Chesnee on October 19, 20. On the last day of October, it was 86 degrees at Jamestown and Cades. Rainfall ranged in October from 8.32 inches at Table Rock to Jamestown with only 2.13 inches.
On November 6, parts of the Pee Dee including Cades, Loris, Hartsville, Darlington and Kingstree, all reported low temperatures of 32 degrees or less. An "Indian Summer" day was noted at Barnwell on November 8 with a high temperature of 80 degrees. Early on November 10, a curtain of rain fell as the once-named and Mobile Bay, Alabama, landfalling Tropical Storm Ida remnants entered the Upstate. At 9:00 a.m. both Anderson AP and Orangeburg AP reported heavy rain. When the effects of the passing cyclonic feature had exited, Loris, in Horry County, had received 6.91 inches of rain during the event. On November 19, dense fog reduced surface visibilities to one-eighth mile at Shaw AFB in Sumter and to "zero" at McEntire ANG AP and James Island Executive AP Friday morning. The Thanksgiving Holiday Thursday started with areas of dense fog for central South Carolina before lifting and becoming mostly sunny. The state's highest temperature recorded on the Thursday, November 26 holiday was 68 degrees at Ft. Moultrie. On the morning of November 28 the lowest official temperature reported was 27 degrees at Table Rock, Cedar Creek, Chesterfield, Pelion, Bennettsville and Dillon.
Just after midnight and on December 2, rain began arriving from the south in association with a large area of low pressure moving into the southern Appalachian Mountains. The Reedy River near Greenville rose 8 feet to flood stage from heavy rainfall intervals of up to three hours. When the sun reappeared on December 3, Long Creek in Oconee County had measured an event total of 4.12 inches of rain. A southeastward-moving cold front came early December 5 with enough forcing to produce snow flurries at Caesars Head State Park. The lowest official temperature reported was 20 degrees at Chesnee on December 6. An active southern jet stream delivered clouds and periodic rains for much of December's second week. Lines of thunderstorms were observed December 8-9 and included high winds ahead of a fast moving frontal boundary. Wilmington, NC radar displayed cells over Kingstree moving east at 65 mph. Seventeen counties reported damaging wind gusts resulting in downed trees and power disruptions. Unseasonable warmth settled into the Lowcountry on December 9 with Pritchardville recording 79 degrees. Winter-like cold entered the state on December 11 and was most evident at Caesar Head with a morning low of 17 degrees. Heavy rains fell along the southern coast on December 12. Pritchardville received 2.28 inches while nearby Beaufort received 1.94 inches. A boundary of warm air moved north into the Lowcountry on December 15 causing fog and a 2:00 a.m. observation at Shaw AFB of "zero" visibility. During the afternoon hours, Edisto Beach warmed to 77 degrees. The South Carolina mountains received pockets of heavy snow on December 19. Both Caesars Head and Landrum measured an event total of 6 inches. Winter began on December 21 with widespread frost. A stretch of sunny cold weather was replaced on Christmas Day with milder air and heavy rain for much of the central Midlands. Columbia's 3.06 inches established a record amount for the December 25 date. The year's last precipitation event brought a wintry mix to the Upstate. Both Caesars Head and Tigerville measured a one-inch snowfall during the nighttime hours on December 30. December's rainfall of 9.31 inches at Columbia was their greatest December total in recordkeeping. New Year's Eve ended the year with areas of light rain, drizzle or fog.