South Carolina 2010 Weather in Review
South Carolina State Climatology Office
South Carolina Department Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
After a sunny mild start to the New Year, freezing air invaded the state on January 2. Edisto Island, the last remaining observer to not have reported a fall or winter freeze, recorded 24 degrees. Summerville's 19-degree start on January 7 climbed to a more seasonal 56 degrees during the afternoon. A weak surface feature moved through the state late that evening with mixed precipitation in the form of rain, sleet and light snow showers. Greenville measured 0.2 inches of snow. More cold followed and on the morning of January 9, Jocassee reported a single digit temperature of 5 degrees. A slow moderation in the cold began on January 12 and by the afternoon of January 16, Barnwell had warmed to 69 degrees. Heavy rains also fell on January 16 with Orangeburg receiving 3.01 inches of rain. The mild airmass remained in place as evidenced by the 74-degree high temperature at Andrews on January 17. A period of unsettled weather was observed beginning January 21. At 1:00 PM, Greenville-Spartanburg observed light rain and 36 degrees while Hilton Head noted heavy rain and 55 degrees. During the 24-hours from the early morning on January 24, Table Rock measured 3.74 inches of rain, and travel interruptions from flash flooding were reported from Oconee County and eastward across the state's high elevation counties. Storms on January 25 produced winds of 49 mph at the Columbia Airport and 52 mph at the Charleston Airport. A complicated weather system approached on the evening of January 29 with rains changing to snow and sleet for parts of the Midlands, Piedmont and Upstate. The heaviest snow was centered just east of Spartanburg with Converse measuring 5 inches. At January's end, both Columbia's and Charleston's average temperature was their coldest in 22 years. Table Rock received 9.26 inches of rain while North Myrtle Beach received only 2.44 inches.
February began with another hard freeze. The Clinton location was the coldest with 14 degrees. Wet weather came early on February 2 to the coast with Hardeeville measuring 0.89 inches by 7:00 a.m. Blowing light rain or drizzle was reported throughout the day. Georgetown Airport received 1.21 inches of rain for the 24-hours ending February 3. On February 4, light snow fell at Walhalla as an area of low pressure began to enter the state. Springmaid Pier observed a peak wind of 45 mph and a minimum barometric pressure value of 29.42 inches of mercury as the storm feature passed off to the northeast. The Jocassee Dam measured a rainfall event total of 3.43 inches. Many South Carolina rivers from the Piedmont to the coast were near or exceeded flood stage. On February 9 and overnight, a strong cold front rolled through the state. At 5:10 a.m. on February 10, the wind sensor at Pineville, near Lake Moultrie, recorded a wind gust of 50 mph. The Newberry Airport measured winds as high as 47 mph and both the Florence Airport and Bennettsville Airport peaked at 44 mph. Winter weather precipitation was observed on February 12 as an area of low pressure tracked across the Gulf States bringing heavy snows to South Carolina. The first flakes were noted at 2:46 p.m. mixing with rain over Lake Moultrie. Orangeburg and Anderson reported snow at 3:00 p.m. Belts of accumulating snow fell from the mountains to the coast. The greatest amount measured was at the Columbia Airport and totaled 8.6 inches, the heaviest snow at that site in 37 years. Seasonal weather returned following the snow event and on February 21, Jamestown warmed to 71 degrees. Sharply falling temperatures on February 25 contributed to brief snow flurries at Greenville, eastward through Florence, and to the north coast. At 12:54 p.m., the Clemson Airport recorded northwest winds gusting to 38 mph. For the Florence Airport and Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, it was the coldest February mean temperature in 32 years and at both the Columbia Airport and Charleston Airport, for thirty years.
Snow on March 2 accumulated to 4.4 inches at Walhalla. North Myrtle Beach received 0.84 inches of rain during the event. The season's warmest weather occurred on March 9 with Columbia and Charleston recording 77 degrees and Florence 76 degrees. Rain showers developed during the day and spread eastward. Clarks Hill received 0.97 inches of rain. Heavy rains formed in thunderstorm clusters near the coast on March 10 with Charleston City measuring 1.93 inches. During the absence of wet weather a slow climb in daily temperatures was observed. On the first day of spring, March 20, both Andrews and Camden enjoyed a balmy 81-degree high temperature. Late season cold returned on March 22 following the passing of a cold front. A dusting of snow was reported at Caesars Head, Table Rock and Jones GAirport. Afternoon temperature bounced back into the 70's following the brief cold snAirport. The Columbia Metro Airport and downtown Columbia Owens Airport both reported a 77-degree high temperature on March 24. Passing showers and increasing winds evolved into severe thunderstorms that included hail and tornadoes on the night of March 28. Golf ball-sized hail fell over parts of Pickens, Greenville, Abbeville, York and Cherokee counties. Preliminary surveys indicated tornado paths within McCormick, Edgefield, Lexington and Fairfield counties. At month's end, Edgefield had received 6.53 inches of rain while the Wateree Dam site just 1.13 inches of rain.
April began with the year's warmest weather and a burst of flowering. The University of South Carolina Campus recorded 91 degrees on the first. Airborne tree pollen seemed to peak on April 5 with the Columbia Airport reporting reduced visibilities from ten to six miles. Temperatures peaked on April 6 at Camden with 94 degrees. Storms swept through the state on April 8 along a cold front and produced weak, short duration tornadoes at Fair Play in Oconee County and near Pendleton in Anderson County. Walhalla measured one of the heaviest rainfall totals at 1.43 inches. Morning temperatures on April 12 rose 40 degrees by late afternoon at Hunts Bridge, 40 to 80, and at Chesnee, 39 to 79. The Darlington Airport recorded a peak barometric pressure value of 30.54 inches of mercury at noon, on April 14. The pattern of stable weather had resulted in drying top soils and stress to spring plantings. Johnston and Bamberg warmed to 90 degrees on April 23. Following another stretch of dry days, pre-frontal rains formed on April 24. Jocassee received 4.24 inches of rain in 24-hours. Locations across the Midlands and eastward to the north coast measured an average of one-half inch. At around 7:40 p.m. on April 25, an isolated storm cell produced a lengthy tornado over Darlington County that caused moderate damage to public and personal property. Violent weather was observed on April 27 in Marlboro County. The Wilmington National Weather Service storm survey team concluded that a "microburst" with winds estimated at 95 mph, caused property damage five miles west-southwest of Bennettsville. The month of April ended with a precipitation range of 5.77 inches total at Jocassee to just 0.38 inches at Wateree Dam.
High temperatures overspread the state on May 2. The Columbia Airport and Dillon both recorded 94 degrees. Florence set a date record 93 degrees. A welcomed departure to wet weather occurred on May 3 with a southwest to northeast axis of heavy rain falling over the highest elevations of the Upstate. Anderson measured 1.90 inches of rain. Although spotty in nature, the slow progression of showers brought relief to dry coastal counties. McClellanville and Georgetown received 1.5 inches. Walterboro measured the greatest rainfall amount with 2.45 inches. The heat returned on May 7 and both Columbia airports reported a maximum temperature of 94 degrees. The Sandhill site measured a 24-hour open pan evAirportoration water loss of 0.61 inches. A cooler airmass replaced the heat on May 10. Both Conway and Loris cooled to 43 degrees. Heavy rains developed on May 17. Givhans was soaked with 4.60 inches of rain while Ridgeville measured a 24-hour rainfall total of 3.88 inches and nearby Walterboro received 3.40 inches. Excessive rainfall rates near Five-Points in Columbia caused flash flooding of the Rocky Branch Creek. Severe weather developed on May 23 as groups of thunderstorms moved from north to south over much of the eastern half of the state. High winds caused downed trees in parts of Greenwood, Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties and golf ball-sized hail fell on Goose Creek and Garden City Beach. Hail described as "near baseball" size (2.50" diameter) pelted a small area of Highway 17 near Seewee Road, nine miles southwest of Awendaw in Charleston County. Hot weather got its start on May 28 at Johnston and an afternoon temperature of 97 degrees. Mullins measured 3.97 inches of rain from a thunderstorm on May 29. Afternoon thunderstorms on May 30 left 1.66 inches of rain in two hours at the Greer Airport. Monthly rainfall totals at May's end ranged from 9.68 inches at Walterboro to just 0.45 inches at Springfield.
Convective storms were widespread during the first week of June. On June 2, McClellanville measured 3.87 inches on rain in a downpour. Rapidly developing thunderstorms on June 3 produced localized flooding within the city limits of Darlington and one-inch hail near Loris. A CoCoRahs volunteer weather observer, located 5.2 miles south-southeast of Summerton, measured 6.23 inches of rain during the late evening hours and local residents described the cloud to ground lightning as nearly continuous for two hours. The thermometers at Barnwell, Johnston, the Marlboro County Jetport, Givhans, and Jamestown all recorded 95 degrees on June 5. Comfortable shade temperatures were the product of a dry air mass that overspread the state on June 7 and remained through June 8. At 3:00 PM on June 7, both Orangeburg and Columbia reported relative humidity values of just 32 percent. The year's first 100-degree observation for South Carolina occurred on June 12. Johnston baked under a maximum temperature of 102 degrees. Lake Wateree and Bamberg noted 101 degrees. On the next day Bamberg reached the highest temperature of the year with 103 degrees. Ocean water temperatures at Springmaid Pier Myrtle Beach were reported at 82 degrees. On June 14, the Charleston Airport set a date record highest low temperature (79 degrees) and a date record high temperature (99 degrees). Johnston's 106 degrees on June 15 was the state's highest temperature since August of 2007. The June 19 storms at Orangeburg produced a one-hour rainfall amount of 1.32 inches and a temperature drop of 18 degrees from 93 to 75 degrees. The last day of astronomical spring, June 20, ended under wilting heat for the Upstate. Walhalla, Anderson and Sandy Springs shared Sunday high temperatures of 95 degrees. At 9:00 a.m. on June 21, Hilton Head Airport instruments indicated an air temperature of 82 degrees over a dewpoint temperature of 82 degrees, yielding 100 percent relative humidity. Only isolated thunderstorms would break the early summer heat. The Darlington Airport and the Marlboro County Jetport baked under a reading of 102 degrees on June 24. Evening storms on June 27 at Shaw AFB in Sumter produced winds gusting to 59 mph and 2.51 inches of rain that caused localized flooding. At the end of June, Florence totaled 9.26 inches of rain while Santuck recorded only 0.99 inches. Columbia's June average temperature of 83.7 degrees tied the 1952 June average for warmest on record. Charleston set a new June record average temperature of 83.4 degrees besting the 1998 average of 82.8 degrees.
On July 1, an unseasonable continental-sourced air mass entered the state. Only a few days later and on July 4, Florence established a date record low temperature of 60 degrees as did Charleston with 61 degrees. Conway and Barnwell cooled to 55 degrees. At 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7, the Columbia Metro Airport reported 99 degrees with a relative humidity value of just 19 percent. Although Saluda and Lake Wateree recorded 101-degree afternoon high temperatures, the low humidity offset some of the discomfort brought by the triple-digit heat. Strong storms on the nigh of July 9 pelted parts of Chesterfield County with 1.75-inch diameter hail. Shaw Air Force Base recorded a wind gust of 67 mph at 7:57 p.m. The poor distribution of rain across portions of west central South Carolina and the Piedmont continued to cause hardship for growers of non-irrigated field crops. At 2:57 p.m. on July 12, severe weather and minor damage was blamed on a weak tornado observed in Lancaster County and again at 4:35 p.m. near Oakland in Sumter County. The Charleston Airport measured 2.73 inches of rain on July 13 that resulted in local flooding. A wind gust of 51 mph was recorded at the Lake Marion Spillway at 9:41 p.m. on Saturday night and the Santee St. Paul site reported a rainfall amount of 1.89 inches. A thunderstorm wind gust of 51 mph was recorded at the Lake Marion Spillway at 9:41 p.m. on the night of July 17 and the nearby Santee St. Paul site reported a rainfall amount of 1.89 inches. July's fourth week was all about the heat. The University of South Carolina campus recorded 105 degrees on July 25. On the same day, it was 101 degrees in York, Laurens, Newberry and the Columbia Metro Airport. North Myrtle Beach, Charleston City and Hilton Head recorded low temperatures on the morning of July 26 above 80 degrees. Evening storms on July 26 produced a wind speed of 78 mph at the Donaldson Center Industrial Airpark in Greenville. Thunderstorm clusters continued on July 27. Fishing Creek Dam near Great Falls received 3.83 inches of rain, McEntire Air National Guard Station near Eastover, 3.07 inches. July 2010 rainfall totals ranged from 0.69 inches at Saluda to 9.86 inches at the Charleston Airport.
During the early morning hours on August 2, nearly stationary heavy rains fell over parts of Greenwood, Saluda and Edgefield counties. The USGS rain gage in Edgefield measured a 24-hour total of 6.52 inches ending at 7:00 a.m. on August 4. The highest official temperature reported on August 5 was 99 degrees at McCormick. Strong thunderstorms on August 6 produced a 61 mph wind gust at the Charleston Airport and 4.97 inches of rain between 5:00 p.m. and midnight. On the morning of August 11, the low temperature at Edisto Beach only fell to just 83 degrees. The tropical airmass contributed to torrential downpours over parts of the state. Bennett's Point received 5.04 inches and the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station measured 7.73 inches over the August 13-15, three calendar-day weekend. On August 16, at 2:00 p.m., the Hilton Head Airport reported 82 degrees with 100 percent relative humidity. Hartsville measured 5.11 inches during a cloudburst that left saturated grounds and standing water on August 19. Jocassee cooled to 59 degrees on the morning of August 24. Rainfall amounts for August ranged from Aiken's total of 12.44 inches to 1.47 inches at McColl.
Less humid conditions were observed on September 1 despite the thermometer climbing to 98 degrees at Columbia Metro Airport, Longtown and McCormick. On September 2, a distant offshore Hurricane Earl passed to the east. The only noticeable effects were 36 mph wind gusts at Springmaid Pier, Myrtle Beach and large breaking waves along the beaches. Chesnee was unseasonably cold on the morning of September 5 with 48 degrees. It was 99 degrees at Ft. Moultrie on September 9. Dry, arid conditions were observed on September 14. At 4:00 p.m., the Columbia Metro Airport reported 94 degrees and a 16 percent relative humidity value. From September 13-19 open pan evaporation water loss at the Clemson Sandhill Experiment Station totaled 2.09 inches. Although the last full day of astronomical summer occurred on September 21, Johnston recorded 100 degrees. Heavy rains beginning on September 26 and into September 27 totaled 4.66 inches at Hemingway. The remnants short-lived Tropical Storm Nicole reformed as an extra-tropical feature southeast of Charleston on September 29. The surface low formed an elongated trough, positioned over the eastern seaboard, and tracked into the South Carolina coast near Georgetown. The Georgetown Airport measured a peak wind gust of 64 mph at 3:15 a.m. on September 30. The heaviest multi-day rainfall total was measured at North Inlet, Winyah Bay Georgetown, with 10.43 inches. September ended with rainfall amounts ranging from just 1.74 inches at Pelion to 10.71 inches at the Georgetown County Airport.
Table Rock and Walhalla reported 45 degrees on the morning of October 2. The October 5 57-degree low temperature at Edisto Beach was their lowest value since April 29. There were public reports of light frost within Pickens County on October 6. Barnwell and Lake Wateree warmed to 89 degrees on October 13. A cold front and stormy weather raced through the state on October 14 with hail followed by plummeting temperatures. Hailstones the size of golf balls fell on Conway and Newberry. Weather monitoring instruments at White Knoll High School in Lexington County measured a two minute temperature fall of 15 degrees as marble-sized hail covered the ground. Barnwell's high temperature of 82 degrees fell 47 degrees to an October 15 morning low of 35 degrees. The season's first freeze was reported by Pelion on October 23 with 32 degrees. Unseasonable warmth was observed on October 26 with both Cades and the Georgetown Airport reporting 87 degrees. On the same day, the Jocassee Dam received 2.55 inches of rain as southerly winds forced moist air up into the South Carolina Mountains. Caesars Head recorded 6.46 inches of rain between October 25 and October 29. October rainfall totals ranged from 6.71 inches at Caesars Head to 0.28 inches at Holly Hill.
At 1:00 p.m. on November 2, the Anderson Airport reported partly sunny skies, 55 degrees and northeast winds gusting to 18 mph. Hemingway's maximum temperature peaked at just 59 degrees. Re-enforcing cold air overspread the state throughout the day on November 5. A trace of snow was reported at Table Rock and Sandy Springs. Sub-freezing temperatures were observed at Chesnee on November 7 with 24 degrees. Orangeburg's November 8 morning low temperature of 31 degrees climbed to 72 degrees by mid-afternoon. Keowee Dam received a November 15 though November 16 total of 1.21 inches in its rain gage. Hardeeville warmed to 79 degrees on November 21. The November 25 Thanksgiving Thursday Holiday arrived under unseasonably mild temperatures and a mix of overcast skies, breaks of sunshine, drizzle and passing sprinkles. The Beaufort MCAS, Charleston Airport, Givhans and Witherbee all warmed to 81 degrees on November 25. Heavy rain and storms affected the Upstate on November 29 and November 30. Both Easley and Gray Court reported moderate damage from brief, EF1 tornadoes on November 30. Jocassee measured a two-day rainfall total of 6.81 inches. The Charleston Airport rainfall total for November was just 0.30 inches.
December arrived with waves of cold air spilling southeastward. Pelion reported 20 degrees on December 2. On December 5, Caesars Head never warmed above freezing. On the same day, the 49-degree maximum temperature at Pinopolis and Ft. Johnson was more like mid-winter. The few barrier islands and southern beaches that had yet to observe a seasonal freeze, did so on the morning of December 7. The minimum temperature at Pelion fell into the single digits with 9 degrees on December 8. It was 12 degrees at the Kingstree Airport and 24 degrees at the Hilton Head Airport. Light snow was observed within parts of Charleston, Dorchester and Colleton counties that night. Lines of showers, moving west to east brought rainfall amounts of 0.76 inches to Walhalla and 0.69 inches to Myrtle Beach on December 12. Mixing of the icy air and available moisture helped produce a three-inch blanket of snow on Caesars Head. At 10:24 p.m., and for the second time in a week, Charleston reported snow flurries. The highest temperature reported in the state on Monday, December 13, was 40 degrees. Table Rock recorded the state's lowest temperature for the season at 6 degrees on December 14. During the first two weeks of December 2010, the average temperature at the Greer Airport, Florence Airport and Columbia Airport was the coldest of record. It was the second coldest of record at the Charleston Airport, behind 1944. A coastal feature edged northeast late on December 15 with light snow and sleet reported over parts of Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties into the morning of December 16. At 7:30 a.m., instruments at Springmaid Pier recorded the lowest known surf water temperature for so early in the season at 45.0 degrees. A long-awaited break from the extended cold came on December 17. The Charleston Airport and the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station warmed to 68 degrees. In just five more days on December 22, the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station and Barnwell warmed to a spring-like 72 degrees. Another surge of arctic air entered the state on December 23. Snow began falling across the South Carolina mountains early Christmas morning. Rain fell east of the Upstate before slowly changing to snow just after midnight. By late afternoon on December 26, Caesars Head had 7 inches of snow on the ground. Mullins measured 5 inches and Hilton Head observed snow flurries. The Georgetown Airport measured a melted precipitation 24-hour total of 1.10 inches at 7:00 a.m., on December 26. On the morning of December 28, Chesnee recorded a frigid 17 degrees. A welcomed warming trend began on December 29 . Barnwell recorded a year-ending high temperature of 73 degrees. December 2010 ranked as the coldest of record at the Florence Airport.