South Carolina 2012 Weather in Review
South Carolina State Climatology Office
South Carolina Department Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
The 2012 year began on a mild Sunday with Barnwell reporting 74 degrees. Freezing air charged into the state on January 2 with snow falling at Caesars Head. Pelion's temperature on January 4 fell to 12 degrees. By Sunday, January 8, the mercury had climbed back to a mild 76 degrees at Allendale, Hardeeville and Witherbee. Thunderstorms rolled through the Upstate on January 11 leaving Table Rock with 1.85 inches of rain. On January 19, Beaufort reported a freezing 32 degrees. Just two days later, Allendale and Givhans warmed to 76 degrees. The Conway high temperature of 77 degrees on January 24 fell 43 degrees to a January 25 morning low of 34 degrees. More warmth returned on January 26 with Cades reaching 80 degrees. Colder, dry air followed on January 30. At 2:00 p.m., both the Charleston AP and the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station reported a relative humidity value of just 15 percent. Chesnee reported a minimum temperature on January 30 of 21 degrees. At the end of January, Table Rock had measured a rainfall total of 6.49 inches while Lake City had measured only 0.67 inches.
February began much like January with mild to warm weather. On February 5, the state's warming peaked at the Charleston AP with a date record 81 degrees. A strong body of arctic air invaded the state on February 10. Northwest winds gusted to 43 mph at the McEntire ANG AP and Charleston AP. Caesars Head's temperature on February 12 plummeted to 10 degrees. Light snow fell also at Caesars Head on February 14 with sleet reported as far south as Newberry. Rains developed on February 18, leaving 1.80 inches at Clarks Hill. The Sullivans Island rain gage measured a two day rainfall total of 3.18 inches. Spring-like warmth was observed beginning February 23. Givhans recorded 86 degrees on February 24. The season's first violent weather formed on the same day over Aiken County with large hail and an EF-2 tornado. McCormick measured a heavy rainfall total of 2.04 inches. February's "leap day" saw afternoon temperatures climb to 82 degrees at Andrews and Orangeburg. Rainfall totals for the 29-day February period measured 3.83 inches at Johnston and just 0.88 inches at Hunts Bridge.
Clemson, Sandy Springs and Rock Hill all warmed to 80 degrees on March 1. The moist air mass supported daily afternoon thunderstorms. A boundary of strong convergence set up along the coastal plain with heavy rains falling on March 3 and 4. Twenty-four- hour rainfall measurements included 3.32 inches at Charleston AP, 3.14 inches at Socastee and 2.85 inches at the Georgetown AP. Edisto Beach reported a Friday-Saturday rainfall amount of 4.00 inches. A cold front replaced the mild wet weather on March 4 with west winds gusting to 49 mph at Orangeburg. Chesnee reported a low temperature on March 6 of 22 degrees. The short stretch of cold ended on March 7 and on March 8, Bamberg and Barnwell noted a high temperature of 78 degrees. On March 15, the Columbia Metro AP recorded a date record high temperature of 88 degrees. The state's string of 80-degree days accelerated the flowering of native plant varieties for much of the state. Winter's last day on March 19 included date-record warmth at Greenville-Spartanburg AP (85 degrees), Florence AP (85 degrees) and N Myrtle Beach AP (81 degrees). Thunderstorms on March 24 left 3.56 inches of rain at Pelion. A sunny March 26 highlighted the full blooms and color of azalea, flowering dogwood and cherry on the SC State House grounds. Conway was just one degree shy of 90 degrees on March 29. March rainfall totals ranged from 7.47 inches at Barnwell to just 1.48 inches at Cedar Creek.
Table Rock State Park, usually one of the state's cooler locations at an elevation of 1020 feet, warmed to 85 degrees on April 1. More date records were set on April 2 at Greenville-Spartanburg AP (88 degrees) and Charleston AP (91 degrees). On April 5 at 4:30 p.m., the Bonham Fire Department in Union County reported thunderstorms with 1.75-inch diameter hail that covered the ground. Winter cold made a late appearance on April 7 with frost reported from Taylors over to Lancaster and Loris. The Conway AP reported 32 degrees. Stormy weather on April 10 produced 55 mph wind gusts at Florence AP. Chester and Rock Hill recorded a freezing 32 degrees on the morning of April 12. Spotty frost was seen by the public as far south as rural Lexington County, Kershaw County and eastward to Bishopville. The brief interruption of cold was gone by April 16 when much of central South Carolina warmed back into the middle 80's. Heavy rains along the coastal plain on April 21 filled the Brookgreen Gardens gage with 3.00 inches. Another late season push of cold arrived on April 23. The thermometer at Caesars Head indicated 32 degrees. Scattered frost was observed on Tuesday morning, April 24, as far south as Gilbert, through Camden, and east into Kingstree. A sharp change to warmer conditions came on April 26. Kingstree reached 90 degrees. Thunderstorms on April 27 produced two-inch diameter hail for parts of Oconee County. Marion measured a 24-hour rainfall total of 2.24 inches. The month of April ended with Caesars Head measuring a thirty-day rainfall total of 7.90 inches, while a distant Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station measured only 0.53 inches.
May 5 was the state's hottest day since September 15, 2011. 95-degree afternoon temperatures were reported at Kingstree, Beaufort and Columbia. On May 8, late night convection above the town of Lyman left 4.81 inches of rain in a CoCoRaHS volunteer's gage. An intense rainfall at the USC Campus on May 9 produced 0.46 inches of rain in just fifteen minutes. The early morning rainfalls of May 14 over the Upstate left 4.02 inches at Liberty and 3.80 inches at Pickens. Seabreeze forcing along a nearly stationary boundary combined to produce tropical downpours and flooding for Charleston, Georgetown and Horry counties. On Tuesday morning, May 15, the Crabtree Swamp gage measured a 24-hour rainfall total of 4.92 inches. Also on May 15, the Wilmington National Weather Service confirmed a "downburst" of estimated 70 mph winds four miles southwest of Longs. Winds estimated at 85 mph were observed two miles northeast of Lamar. Heavy rains developed again on May 16 for the north coastal locations. The town of Longs reported "waist deep" roadway flooding at the intersection of Highways 9 and 105. Nearly continuous rain fell over Murrells Inlet. A CoCoRaHS volunteer in that area measured 7.58 inches. Daylight arrived on May 17 for the north coast with a landscape of standing water. Storms on May 22 produced at wind gust of 59 mph at Pineville. Hot weather on May 26 sent the mercury to 95 degrees at McCormick. Tropical Storm Beryl influenced the coastal weather beginning on May 28. A CoCoRaHS volunteer observer in Cameron measured 7.30 inches of rain for the two-day period ending May 30. Instruments at Springmaid Pier measured a minimum barometric pressure of 29.54 inches of mercury at 7:24 a.m. and a peak wind gust of 41 mph from the north at 10:00 a.m. as Tropical Storm Beryl passed offshore on May 30. Saluda reported 94 degrees on the last day of May. The 31-day rainfall total indicated that Conway had received 11.99 inches of rain and the Anderson AP had only received 2.22 inches.
Noticeably cooler air on June 2 was evident by a 47-degree morning low temperature at Caesars Head and Long Creek. On June 5, the high temperature at Pelion only made it to 70 degrees. Edisto Beach was the only site to reach 80 degrees on June 6. Tropical-sourced rains arrived on June 11. The Lake Greenwood observer measured 3.40 inches. At 5:21 p.m., an EF1 rated tornado touched down seven miles south of Ridgeland with a four mile path that felled hundreds of trees. Sunday, June 17 started more like an early fall day with 55 degrees at Rock Hill, Johnston, Dillon and Conway. Columbia reported the coolest first two weeks of June in twenty years. The official start of summer began on June 20 and a hot Chesterfield reported 95 degrees. The Saturday, June 23 fourteen-plus hours of sun sent the mercury to 95 degrees at Little Mountain, Florence and McCormick. The Sunday, June 24 weather included increased cloudiness and periods of heavy rain over the southern counties from the expanding circulation of the Gulf of Mexico's Tropical Storm Debby. A CoCoRaHS volunteer observer near Summerton measured 5.98 inches in just over two hours. On June 27, date record low temperatures were set at Florence (58), N Myrtle Beach (58) and Charleston AP (62) as a departing Tropical Storm Debby forced much cooler air into the south. The mercury reversed its direction on June 28 with many locations warming into the upper 90's. The June 29 desert-like heat set the stage for record high temperatures for parts of the Midlands and Upstate. The University of South Carolina campus in Columbia recorded 113 degrees and established a new South Carolina state high temperature record. June 2012 ended with a rainfall range of 11.38 inches at Givhans Ferry to 1.24 inches at the Greenville-Spartanburg AP.
July 1 was a record setting day for the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport .The 107-degree high temperature was that location's all-time highest value. Hail producing storms over the Shaw AFB dropped the temperature from 99 degrees to 77 degrees in one hour. Bennettsville and Hartsville shared a 99-degree high temperature on a hot, July Fourth holiday. The Sandhill Experiment Station noted a July 5 maximum temperature of 103 degrees followed by a 24-hour open pan evaporation water loss of 0.51 inches. Sullivan's Island never got cooler than 80 degrees at sunrise on Sunday morning, July 8. The tropical atmosphere allowed for afternoon downpours from the Midlands to the coast. On July 10, a CoCoRaHS volunteer observer, 3.2 miles north-northeast of Georgetown, measured 5.38 inches of rain. The Hamilton-Owens AP in Columbia recorded 1.85 inches of rain in a lightning-filled 27 minutes. More heavy rains fell over the South Carolina mountains on July 13. Caesars Head's 3.95 inches gave them a five-day total of 11.57 inches. At 3:30 p.m. on July 17, the Springmaid Pier at Myrtle Beach recorded their highest surf water temperature of the season at 87.3 degrees. Dillon reported 99 degrees on July 22. On Thursday, July 26, Barnwell recorded a sweltering 103 degrees. Both the Florence Regional AP and N Myrtle Beach AP never cooled below 80 degrees before sunrise on Friday, July 27. Heavy rains formed over the Grand Strand coastal counties on the morning of July 30. The N Myrtle Beach AP measured 1.81 inches in just one hour. The rainfall range for July 2012 showed the greatest amount at Caesars Head with 15.13 inches to a least amount of 3.67 inches at Johnston.
Towering thunderstorms on August 2 produced large, damaging hail over parts of the Lowcountry. Hailstones of 2.75 inches in diameter fell near Green Pond in Colleton County and near Givhans in Dorchester County. Beginning late Sunday morning on August 5 and into the afternoon hours, parts of Hampton County were soaked. A CoCoRaHS volunteer near Varnville reported 4.84 inches of rain. Between August 6 and August 12, Aiken received 9.40 inches of rain. Some cooler air was introduced to the state on August 13. Clarks Hill, Calhoun Falls and Chester reported 62 degrees. Kings Mt. State Park and Long Creek cooled to 60 degrees on August 16. Ninety Nine Islands, Chesnee and Dillon noted an unseasonably cool start to Friday, August 17, with 60 degrees. A thunderstorm soaked Sardis with 3.05 inches of rain for the 24-hours ending August 18. Sardis received another 1.55 inches on August 20. On August 22, Jocassee reported a "fall-like" morning of 52 degrees. On August 27, the broad circulation of a distant Tropical Storm Isaac, located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, combined with a seabreeze boundary to produce pockets of heavy rain for the coastal plain. The Mount Pleasant Regional AP recorded a torrential 5.01 inches of which 3.79 inches fell in one hour. In less than 48 hours, 11.89 inches of rain fell at Mount Pleasant. At the end of August, the 31-day rainfall ranged from 20.16 inches at Mount Pleasant AP to just 4.30 inches at York. The Columbia Metro AP's August total of 9.81 inches was their heaviest August rainfall since 1988.
Hot weather made another run for the Labor Day holiday weekend. Florence, Kingstree and Clinton reported 95 degrees on Saturday, September 1, and Sullivan's Island, Dillon and Givhans reached 96 degrees on Sunday, September 2. The cool boundary that arrived September 9 produced widespread thunderstorms as it collided with the outgoing tropical air. Some of the heavier 24-hour rainfall amounts included 2.47 inches at Mullins, 2.12 inches at Gallivants Ferry, 2.02 inches at Gaffney and 1.90 inches at Darlington. The sunrise temperature at Jocassee and Ninety Nine Islands fell to 51 degrees on September 14. Intense rains on the morning of September 17 produced flash flooding over Lancaster County that caused delays and detours to automobile traffic. A Lancaster CoCoRaHS volunteer measured 5.89 inches of rain. The first day of autumn arrived on Saturday, September 22, but summertime temperatures were holding out. Barnwell, Hardeeville, Givhans and the Kingstree AP all reached 90 degrees. September 24 bordered on cold for Table Rock as the temperature dropped to 43 degrees. Just a few days later on September 27, Dillon and McCormick shared a high temperature of 88 degrees. September ended with a rainfall range of 6.98 inches measured at Caesars Head to just 0.65 inches measured at Bamberg. Through the first nine months of 2012 the N Myrtle Beach AP location reported a rainfall deficit from normal of 10.3 inches.
During the darkness of Tuesday morning, October 2, thunderstorms formed, bringing heavy rains to the mountains. Jocassee measured 3.64 inches and a CoCoRaHS volunteer in Cleveland reported 3.59 inches. The October 7, Sunday afternoon temperature at the Georgetown AP, made it to a warm 88 degrees. At 2:55 p.m., on Monday, October 8, the Marion and Walterboro airports reported "heavy rain." Edisto Island was under a downpour of 1.96 inches of rain. On the afternoon of October 15, a frontal passage caused scattered thunderstorms and a report of one-inch diameter hailstones falling over Marion. Pelion's 38 degrees on the morning of October 16 was the state's first location of the season to report temperatures below 40 degrees. On Thursday, October 25, the cirrus outflow from a distant, Hurricane Sandy began edging into the south coastal counties. The same-day high temperature of 83 degrees at Florence, Hartsville and Jamestown was close to ten degrees above the long-term average. At 5:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, October 27, the center of Hurricane Sandy was located 335 miles east-southeast of Charleston and moving northeast. The N Myrtle Beach AP recorded a 45 mph gust as Sandy passed well to the east. The broad circulation around Hurricane Sandy caused much colder air to enter South Carolina on strong, northwesterly winds. According to park rangers at Jones Gap and Caesars Head, the high elevation mountains "peak" color season was short-lived due to excessive leaf drop caused by the high winds on October 29. Newberry and Mullins recorded 57 degrees for their high temperature on October 30. Relative humidity values on the last day of October fell to 13 percent at Clemson, 14 percent at Orangeburg, 15 percent at Columbia and 16 percent at Beaufort. October rainfall totals ranged from 5.66 inches at Caesars Head to just 0.62 inches at Little Mountain.
November began with the season's coldest air. Pelion reported a hard freeze of 24 degrees. Warming, moist air pushed north on Sunday, November 4, ahead of a frontal boundary and hail producing storm cells. At 5:10 p.m., Monetta reported one-inch diameter hail that quickly moved into the neighborhoods of South Congaree. The Orangeburg AP, Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station and Adams Run all warmed to a high temperature of 84 degrees. At 5:55 p.m., a severe thunderstorm released 1.75-inch diameter hail over parts of Murrells Inlet with public reports of quarter-sized hail covering the ground at Garden City Beach. Colder air visited the state on November 8 with 20 degrees reported at one of the state's known cool spots, Cedar Creek. On November 12, warming sunshine pushed the afternoon high temperature to 80 degrees at Charleston, Florence and the Georgetown AP. Just two days later and following another cold front, the noon temperature at Florence and Charleston would be a chilling 50 degrees. On November 15, a compact area of low pressure formed along a resting frontal boundary and brought thunderstorms to the Midlands. The Columbia Metro AP rainfall of 1.26 inches was that site's heaviest rainfall in 84 days. Steady northeast winds along the coast elevated the year's highest "predicted" tides to flood waterfront streets and yards from the Charleston Peninsula north into Murrells Inlet and Garden City Beach. Thanksgiving Thursday, November 22, started with a few reports of frost across central South Carolina. The Rock Hill AP, Marlboro County AP, Kingstree AP and Walterboro recorded a holiday maximum temperature of 64 degrees. On November 25, Ninety Nine Islands became the first location of the season to report a minimum temperature in the "teens", (19 degrees). Summerville's Sunday morning, November 25, temperature of 31 degrees doubled in warmth to an afternoon high of 62 degrees. As of November 30, the seaside locations of McClellanville, Sullivan's Island, Edisto Island and Beaufort had not observed a seasonal freeze. The thirty days of November 2012 ended with a state rainfall range of 2.86 inches at the Georgetown AP to just 0.63 inches at Long Creek.
A mostly sunny Florence recorded an unseasonably mild 72 degrees to start December. Barnwell warmed to 78 degrees on December 2. Columbia, Orangeburg and Beaufort made it to 76 degrees on Wednesday, December 5. On December 6, cloudy weather and cool northeast winds took the place of the previous day's unseasonal warm conditions. Chester and Dillon recorded a Thursday high temperature of just 50 degrees. The fog on Saturday morning, December 8, signaled a return to milder weather. Cades and Jamestown warmed to 80 degrees on December 9. Seasonal cold returned on December 14 with Hunts Bridge reporting 22 degrees. The back and forth nature of December's weather was interrupted with a strong cold front on December 20. West winds gusted to 52 mph at the Lake Thurmond Dam and to 51 mph at the Columbia Metro AP. Long Creek's 1.72 inches of rain was the state's heaviest 24-hour rainfall. Friday, December 21, the first day of winter, was windy and cold. Most sites reported afternoon high temperatures in the middle to upper 40's. The dry and cold air mass lowered relative humidity values on December 22 to just 13 percent at Columbia. Passing showers on December 24 continued into a cloudy and wet Christmas Day. The holiday high temperature at Pickens was only 47 degrees while a distant Charleston and Beaufort recorded a mild 65 degrees. Spartanburg measured the date's heaviest rainfall with 2.89 inches. Another frontal passage was observed on Wednesday, December 26. Winds gusted to 44 mph at Columbia, Charleston and Hilton Head Island. Rains came on Friday, December 28 leaving McClellanville with 1.11 inches. The December 24-29 stretch of nearly daily rainfalls amounted to the most in a similar period since the second week of August. Early morning temperatures on December 30 fell to 25 degrees at Pelion, Saluda and Barnwell , and to 23 degrees at Dillon and Florence on the last day of the year. Hardeeville recorded South Carolina's year-ending warmest temperature of 64 degrees.