South Carolina 2011 Weather in Review
South Carolina State Climatology Office
South Carolina Department Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167 Columbia, SC 29202
Coldest temperature reported, 5 degrees F, January 13, 2011, Jocassee
Warmest temperature reported, 107 degrees F, July 22, 2011, University of South Carolina
June through August 2011, second warmest on record statewide (out of 117 years)
FAA AWOS instruments at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport recorded 99 degrees over an 82-degree dewpoint at 3:00 PM, July 13, yielding a heat index value of 124 degrees. This is the state's unofficial highest accepted observed heat index value.
Portions of the state were in incipient and moderate drought in 2011 with six counties upgraded to severe drought in November. Driest year since records began in 1903 for Walterboro receiving only 27.78" (normal 48.5")
No hurricanes made direct landfall in South Carolina
The 2011 New Year began with dense fog and visibilities of less than one-quarter of a mile for much of the state. Andrews reported the state's highest temperature with 74 degrees. On January 2, both airports in Columbia recorded 69-degree high temperatures. Freezing air returned on January 3 with Chesnee recording 17 degrees. Snow flurries were observed at Caesars Head on January 8 and on the following morning their temperature dropped to 8 degrees. Heavy snow spread eastward on January 10 with Newberry measuring 10 inches. Allendale was hit with a severe ice storm. The morning temperature on January 13 fell to 5 degrees at Jocassee and on January 14, instruments at Springmaid Pier noted a surf water temperature of 41 degrees. Bluffton saw snowflakes on January 22. January 30 warming sent the mercury to 75 degrees at Summerville and Columbia. January rainfall ranged from 3.55 inches at Long Creek to 0.84 inches at Florence.
February began with a stationary boundary positioned over the Upstate and 1.60 inches of rain falling at Table Rock. Andrews and Georgetown warmed to 76 degrees on February 3. Soaking rains fell into Saturday, February 5, with Allendale reporting a three-day rainfall total of 3.60 inches. Late on the evening of February 9 snow began falling at Mountain Rest. A general one-inch accumulation was reported across Greenwood and Newberry counties. Conway observed light snow on Friday morning, February 11. At around sunrise on February 17, sea fog formed along the southern coast with "zero" visibility observed at Edisto Beach, Charleston Harbor and the Isle of Palms. The unseasonable warmth sent the afternoon high temperature on February 18 to 81 degrees at the USC campus in Columbia. The state's warmest weather since the last week of October 2010 was observed on Sunday, February 27. Allendale, Witherbee and Barnwell reached 83 degrees. Early flowering of bulbs and ornamental trees was evident across locations east of the Piedmont. Storms on February 25 produced an EF1 tornado at Silverstreet. At the end of February, Blackville had received a monthly rainfall total of 4.89 inches while Edgefield only measured 1.75 inches.
Heavy rains on March 5 and 6 totaled 4.72 inches at the Jocassee Dam. Thunderstorms on March 9 and into March 10 brought more heavy rain to Long Creek with amounts of 3.14 inches. On March 12, the thermometer at Hunts Bridge rose from an early morning low of 26 degrees to an afternoon high of 76 degrees. Summer-like heat overspread the state on March 18 with 89-degree high temperatures being reported at Sandy Run, Clemson and Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter. Severe weather developed on March 19 along a southeastward-moving cold front. Mid-afternoon storms in Greenville produced hail that covered the ground. Large hail, up to golf ball-sized, fell over parts of Laurens and Saluda counties. Lake Greenwood measured a heavy rainfall total of 1.98 inches. Charleston's 88 degrees on March 22 was a date record. High winds developed on Wednesday March 23, and continued through Thursday. The Orangeburg airport recorded winds on Thursday gusting to 48 mph from the west. Wildfire counts increased throughout the coastal plain. Strong thunderstorms on Sunday, March 27, produced several large hail episodes within Beaufort and Jasper counties. At 1:55 p.m., tennis ball-sized hail fell at Port Royal. During the 31 days of March, Jocassee received 16.68 inches of rain while Jamestown only 3.46 inches.
Stormy weather formed early on April 5. The Anderson AP recorded winds gusting to 65 mph and at 3:55 a.m., the Columbia AP measured a wind gust of 75 mph. Trees were toppled and electrical service was disrupted. Cleveland received one of the heavier rainfall amounts of 1.33 inches. Near 90-degree heat helped fuel another round of storms on April 9. Golf ball-sized hailstones fell within Pickens, Anderson, Cherokee, Chesterfield, Lancaster, Fairfield, Lee and Florence counties. Baseball to tennis ball-sized hail was reported within Darlington, Sumter and Berkeley counties. Parts of York County were bombarded with hailstones measuring up to 4 inches in diameter. Many automobiles had their windshields broken and extensive damage to early field crops and orchards occurred throughout the hail path. On Saturday afternoon April 16, hailstones of 1.75-inch diameter fell within Orangeburg, Berkeley, Williamsburg, Florence, Georgetown and Horry counties. Law enforcement in Clarendon County reported "softball-sized" hailstones at 3:28 p.m. Only minutes after 5:00 p.m., a funnel cloud transitioned into a water spout over Lake Moultrie, then became an EF1 tornado before destroying a church near St. Stephen. McClellanville received 2.23 inches of rain during a thunderstorm on April 22. Racing northeast at 64 mph, the storm cells on April 28 caused EF1 tornadoes at Ft. Motte and just south of Sumter. April 2011 rainfall totals ranged from 5.15 inches at Ft. Mill to 1.57 inches at Winnsboro.
Thunderstorms ahead of a cold front on May 4 filled Winnsboro's rain gage with 1.80 inches of rain. Unusually cold temperatures spilled into the Upstate and on the morning of May 5 caused the formation of "rooftop" frost. Walhalla and Chesnee recorded low temperatures of 33 degrees. Dense fog developed along the central coast on May 7. At 1:02 a.m., port traffic in the Charleston Harbor was temporarily halted due to visibilities of one-tenth of a mile. Hardeeville and Lake Wateree both warmed to 94 degrees on May 10 just ahead of the next day's severe weather event. At 5:55 p.m. on May 11, the crossroads at Evergreen observed baseball-sized hail that covered the ground. Brief periods of intense rain left 1.59 inches at Lake Wylie and 1.43 inches at the Georgetown AP. Pockets of welcomed rain fell on May 16 with Catawba measuring the heaviest amount of 2.40 inches. Mid summer-like heat was observed on May 22 as Barnwell's temperature soared to 100 degrees. Bamberg and Allendale joined in the 100-degree heat on May 23. A cloudburst at Hartsville on May 27 produced intense rainfall measuring 4.25 inches. Darlington received 3.10 inches and nearby Pageland received 3.01 inches. The Columbia Hamilton-Owens AP reported at 14-degree temperature drop from 84 degrees in just over an hour, following a thunderstorm. At May's end, monthly rainfall totals ranged from 9.17 inches at Ft. Mill to just 0.41 inches at the Charleston AP.
At the start of June, most of the Lowcountry continued to report drying soils due to the extended absence, or poor distribution, of rain. Scattered convective storms brought some relief to locations well inland during the second week of June. Liberty was underneath one cell on June 10 and measured 2.12 inches of rain. Drying heat continued on June 13 for much of the Lowcountry. At 4:00 p.m., the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station recorded 101 degrees with just 19 percent relative humidity. Thunderstorms on June 15 produced winds gusting to 61 mph at the McEntire ANG AP near Eastover and the Charleston AP received their heaviest rain since April 22 with 1.22 inches. On June 21, the start of meteorological summer, Witherbee baked with a shade temperature of 105 degrees. The wilting heat caused a two-day open pan evaporation water loss of 0.92 inches at the Sandhill Experiment Station near Columbia. Early afternoon storms on Tuesday June 28, left 1.21 inches of rain in just 33 minutes at the Orangeburg AP. Nearby Barnwell measured a 24-hour rainfall total of 2.78 inches. June's 2011 rainfall in South Carolina ranged from 8.51 inches at Ft. Mill to 0.30 inches at the Florence AP.
The 2.34 inches of rain that fell during a thunderstorm at Florence, on July 5, was the heaviest rain at that site since September 29, 2010. Afternoon storm activity during the second week of June was concentrated from the Midlands to the beaches as southerly winds delivered tropical air. The rain gage at N Inlet Winyah Bay measured 3.06 inches of rain on July 9 that resulted in street flooding for the streets in nearby Georgetown. A National Weather Service Spotter at Middleton Place in Charleston measured 6.40 inches on the same day with additional street and neighborhood flooding. "Steam bath" conditions were observed Wednesday, July 13, along the coastal counties. Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Beaufort started the day with a sunrise low temperature of just 81 degrees and relative humidity as high as 94 percent. At 3:00 p.m., FAA AWOS instruments at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport recorded 99 degrees over an 82-degree dewpoint, yielding a heat index value of 124 degrees. This is the state's unofficial highest accepted observed heat index value. During the predawn hours of Friday morning, July 15, the saturated atmosphere over Beaufort unloaded with torrential rains. The Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station measured 3.17 inches of rain in one hour that included a peak rate of 0.94 inches in twelve minutes. Edisto Beach was soaked with an event total of 3.96 inches. The Charleston peninsula never cooled below 83 degrees on July 22. That same afternoon, the USC campus in Columbia recorded the summer's highest temperature at 107 degrees. In the darkness of Tuesday morning, July 26, rainfall rates at the E Cooper Regional AP were recorded at 2.63 inches in 20 minutes and part of 5.20 inches in only one hour. Edisto Beach measured a multi-day total of 6.25 inches of rain which was part of the state's greatest July 2011 total of 11.67 inches. Chesnee received only 0.82 inches during July.
Barnwell's 103 degrees on August 4 was the nineteenth time this season they had experienced triple-digit heat. Scattered thunderstorms on August 5 drenched Holly Hill with 3.70 inches and Newberry with 2.88 inches. The heat on August 8 pushed the mercury to 104 degrees at Dillon and Pinopolis. The Charleston AP was soaked with 4.91 inches of rain during the 48-hours of August 12 and 13. A long-awaited, cooler airmass arrived on August 15. On Tuesday morning, August 16, Kingstree and Hartsville reported low temperatures of 61 degrees. The break was brief as temperatures on August 19 climbed back to 99 degrees at Johnston and McCormick. On August 25 at 6:06 p.m. , the surf water temperature at Springmaid Pier Myrtle Beach reached its highest of the summer at 86.9 degrees. The next morning Hurricane Irene's outer bands of rain began coming ashore along the central coast. Although Hurricane Irene passed approximately 150 miles to the east of Myrtle Beach, the event's highest windspeed was measured at Springmaid Pier with a gust from the north-northeast of 62 mph. The Crabtree Swamp gage, near Conway, measured 2.79 inches of rain. Cloudy conditions on Tuesday, August 29, only allowed a Columbia high temperature of 84 degrees, that location's "lowest" high temperature since May 19. August 2011 rainfall totals ranged from 9.88 inches at Mullins to 0.35 inches at Sandy Springs.
On September 5 and 6, the remnants of a once-named Gulf Coast Tropical Storm Lee brought banding rains to the state. Caesars Head recorded a 24-hour rainfall total of 2.02 inches ending on the morning of September 6. Following the departing tropical feature, much cooler and less humid air settled into the region. The McEntire ANG AP, Barnwell and Cedar Creek each recorded a Wednesday morning, September 7, minimum temperature of 55 degrees. Temperatures eased back into the middle 90's at the start of September's third week but low humidity values made the heat less annoying. The Columbia Metro AP noted a September 15 high temperature of 97 degrees. Only a day later, a push of Canadian air and cloudy skies kept the high temperatures at Chester and Bennettsville to just 60 degrees. Moist, tropical air, at the surface and aloft, began arriving on Tuesday, September 20, with heavy rains. Northward-moving convection produced 1.85 inches of rain at Gaston Shoals and 1.56 inches at Hardeeville. For the 24-hours ending on September 21, Anderson measured 3.18 inches and Edgefield measured 2.59 inches. The September 20-25 period produced a rainfall accumulation of 9.33 inches at Columbia's Hamilton-Owens AP. Eastward-moving storms on Monday, September 26, left 3.94 inches of rain at the Orangeburg County Emergency Management Division's office. Givhans and Pinopolis ignored the season's calendar with 92-degree heat observed on September 27. September 2011 rainfall ranged from a high of 10.60 inches at Jocassee to a low of 1.40 inches at Calhoun Falls.
"Rooftop frost" was observed on the morning of October 3 at Mountain Rest as much colder, seasonal air settled into the state. Jocassee was the first location to fall below freezing with 30 degrees. Dry, seasonal weather and afternoon high temperatures nearing 80 degrees were reported during the first week. Light to moderate rains were observed at sunrise on October 10. At 8:00 a.m., Charleston City reported gale force winds from the northeast at 46 mph. Springmaid Pier's Tuesday 3:54 a.m. observation indicated northeast winds of 32 mph, gusting to 37 mph. Ft. Moultrie measured a 24-hour rainfall from Monday into Tuesday morning of 1.25 inches. Blackville measured the heaviest 24-hour total with 2.87 inches ending on Wednesday morning, October 12. Summer-like warmth returned on October 17 for Barnwell, Summerville, Hartsville and Bennettsville, all of which reached 88 degrees. A broad sub-tropical feature, moving north from Florida, began influencing the southern-most coast with light rain around noon on October 18. Some of the heaviest 24-hour rainfall amounts noted by Wednesday morning, October 19, included 2.28 inches at Pageland, 1.82 inches at Jocassee Dam, 1.65 inches at Sandy Run and 1.32 inches at McClellanville. On Sunday, October 23, a mild 74 degrees was recorded at the Georgetown AP, Edisto Beach and Beaufort. Fall color, according to park rangers at the state's highest mountain elevations, was described as "peaking" on Monday, October 24. The thermometer indicated the lowest values of the season on the morning of October 30. The public reported "ground frost" in Sumter and "rooftop frost" as far south as Summerville. Pelion recorded the state's coldest temperature of 27 degrees. The month of October ended with Lancaster receiving 4.40 inches of rain while Cades totaled just 1.51 inches.
Cedar Creek started November with a consecutive three-day morning temperature observation of 29 degrees. Upstate rains on Friday, November 4, soaked Pickens with 1.45 inches. On November 8 and 9, Givhans reported 80 degrees. A sharp drop in temperatures came on November 12 with the mercury plunging to 22 degrees at Pelion and Bennettsville. The Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station experienced their first freeze of the season with 30 degrees. A stretch of "Indian Summer" warmth was observed during the three-day, November 14 through November 16 period. Andrews, Barnwell, Pinopolis and Allendale recorded 81 degrees on November 14. Sandy Run, Bennettsville, Shaw AFB in Sumter and the Columbia Metro AP reached 81 degrees on November 15. Florence and Dillon recorded 84 degrees on November 16. Stormy weather developed on Wednesday afternoon, November 16, and turned violent for York County. An EF2 rated tornado caused 3 fatalities and moderate property damage 5 miles south of Rock Hill. National Weather Service radar indicated storms racing east at up to 55 mph. Sunrise temperatures at Dillon, Johnston and Hartsville fell to 27 degrees on Friday morning, November 18. By November 21, temperatures had rebounded to nearly 81 degrees at Columbia, Orangeburg, Charleston and Beaufort. A fast moving front arrived on the evening of November 23 with Laurens getting 1.25 inches of rain and nearby Clinton receiving 0.88 inches. On Sunday, November 27, Givhans and Charleston warmed up to 79 degrees. A large area of rain began arriving early on November 28 for the westernmost counties of the Upstate. For the next 24-hours, all reporting airports in the state made at least one observation of "heavy rain." The mountain site of Table Rock recorded an event total of 3.56 inches of rain. Hemingway, located in the Pee Dee region, received 2.78 inches. Rainfall changed to snow at Caesars Head State Park and covered grassy surfaces, cars and rooftops with a measurement of one-inch. November ended with a rainfall range of 10.33 inches falling at Caesars Head to 1.13 inches at Sandy Run.
Sunny, clear and cold conditions were observed on the first of December. Hartsville, Saluda, Sandy Springs and Laurens reported a December 2, Friday morning hard freeze of 26 degrees. Moderating temperatures followed for several days before a surge of warm air arrived on southerly winds. Dense fog was observed on December 6 with Shaw AFB in Sumter, Columbia's Hamilton-Owens AP, Charleston AP and the Florence AP all reporting relative humidity values of 100 percent. Walterboro's December 7 afternoon 81-degree high temperature plummeted 44 degrees in 16 hours during the passage of a distinct cold front. Stable high pressure settled into the region. At 10:55 a.m. on December 11, instruments at the Darlington County Jetport recorded a peak barometric pressure value of 30.61 inches of mercury. On December 16, Conway, Givhans and Pinopolis warmed to 78 degrees. Freezing air entered the state on the morning of December 19 with Hartsville and Cedar Creek cooling to 25 degrees. A nearly stationary boundary produced widespread rains on December 20,21 and 22. Pickens recorded a 24-hour rainfall of 0.97 inches and Calhoun Falls measured 0.80 inches. Jocassee Dam was underneath one of the exiting, heavy rainshowers and received 1.53 inches. Although the official astronomical start of winter began in the darkness of Thursday morning, December 22, the three airports of Kingstree, Charleston and Beaufort warmed to 79 degrees. Christmas Day Sunday began with partly cloudy skies, then periods of light rain for central South Carolina and eastward to the coast. Sandy Run started the holiday at 40 degrees, reported a high temperature of just 48 degrees and measured 0.36 inches of rain. High winds accompanied a cold front on December 27. Both airports at Charleston and Georgetown recorded peak winds of 47 mph. Aiken filled its rain gage with 1.40 inches. After a frosty start, on the morning of December 29, milder weather continued into year's end. Orangeburg and Beaufort warmed up to 71 degrees on December 31. Rainfall amounts for December 2011 ranged from 10.41 inches at Caesars Head to just 0.48 inches at N Myrtle Beach.