South Carolina 2016 Weather in Review
South Carolina State Climatology Office
South Carolina Department Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
Two of the South Carolina’s highest elevations, Sassafras Mountain and Caesars Head, recorded a cold 24 degrees on the morning of January 2. Folly Beach and Beaufort followed with a freezing 32 degrees on January 5. The state’s usual cold spot in Oconee County, the Walhalla Fish Hatchery (Jocassee 8WNW), reported a January 6 minimum of 16 degrees. Hilton Head Island registered a freeze of 32 degrees on January 12. Stormy weather arrived with heavy rain for Anderson, Barnwell and Columbia on Friday, January 15. Winds gusted to 46 mph at Barnwell and light snow fell overnight into Saturday morning at Caesars Head. Snowflakes were seen on Sunday in Pageland. Stinging cold on Tuesday, January 19, sent the mercury to 5 degrees at Sassafras Mt and 24 degrees at Edisto Island. A Gulf States cyclonic feature approached on January 22. Moderate snow accumulated to 8 inches in Landrum with reports of snow falling all the way to Lady’s Island in Beaufort on Saturday morning. Winter’s cold was drawn into the exiting path of the storm all the way to Hilton Head which reported a January 23 high temperature of just 37 degrees. Moderating temperatures at month’s end allowed Hartsville to reach a more agreeable 71 degrees on January 31. January’s rainfall ranged from 4.57 inches at Table Rock State Park to 1.90 inches at N Myrtle Beach.
Warming conditions on February 2 moved the temperature to 81 degrees in Walterboro. Storms on February 3 produced an EFO-rated tornado near the Pine Ridge/Highway 21 South intersection destroying cars parked in a Rail Freight Auto Storage Yard. Walterboro received 4.31 inches of rain over two days. On Saturday morning, February 6, Orangeburg and Summerville reported 30 degrees. An offshore storm forced precipitation above the cold, lowest layers with periods of sleet falling over Florence, Williamsburg, Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. Rain fell at the USGS gage at Crabtree Swamp for nearly 18 hours and totaled 2.35 inches. Winter cold returned on February 10 with light snow falling as far south as St. Matthews. It was 11 degrees at Sassafras Mt. on February 11. Snow showers on February 12 left one inch on the ground at Table Rock State Park. The Greenville-Spartanburg AP high temperature on February 14 never climbed above freezing, thus making it their coldest afternoon since January 8, 2015. Coastal storms within early morning darkness on February 15 caused high winds of 53 mph at Folly Beach Pier and 52 mph at Fripp Island. Charleston and Beaufort warmed to 78 degrees on February 21. Soaking rains over February 22 and 23 left 3.24 inches at the USGS gage on the Reedy River at Greenville. A powerful mid-latitude cyclone in the Ohio Valley on February 24 made for the state’s windiest day since March 13, 1993. Winds roared at 55 mph at Sumter and Orangeburg and at 54 mph for McEntire ANG AP and Charleston AP. Southerly winds on February 28 warmed Allendale to 81 degrees. February’s rainfall ranged from 9.33 inches at Jocassee 8WNW to 2.41 inches at Santuck.
Late night snows at Caesars Head left a two-inch blanket for early risers on the morning of March 4. Clinton noted a minimum temperature of 25 degrees. 80-degree warmth arrived on March 10 with Darlington and Sandhill reporting 83 degrees. Jamestown was the state’s warmest locationwith 86 degrees on March 11. Peach orchards along the “ridge” area of Edgefield, Saluda and Aiken counties were described as “in blossom.” Established gardens across the Midlands into the Lowcountry were showing early season color. Thunderstorms on March 14 sent hailstones the size of “hen’s eggs” to the Pebble Creek Subdivision near Taylors, causing severe tree damage. Out-of-season warmth on March 16 pushed the thermometer to 90 degrees at Bennettsville. Pollen counts from pine tree spores appeared to peak. Spring started on Sunday morning at 12:30 a.m., just ahead of areas of rain and more cold weather. (Warmest known first day of spring, 91 degrees at Aiken and Batesburg March 21, 1907). Winnsboro and Hartsville only made it to 46 degrees. Light snows fell at Caesars Head. Spring was put on hold as temperatures fell to 22 degrees at Jocassee on March 22 and a report of frost as far south as Moncks Corner. Warming winds on Thursday, March 24, meant 84 degrees for the high temperature at Jamestown. Heavy rains developed along the coastal counties on March 26-27, bringing Charleston City a two-day total of 2.72 inches. The Sandy Springs high temperature on March 28 of 78 degrees fell 43 degrees overnight as another cold front settled into the state. The March rainfall ranged from 4.65 inches at Sullivan’s Island to 1.15 inches at Marion.
April began wet. The USGS gage at Clearwater in Aiken County received 4.05 inches. Clearing skies on April 2 came on west winds gusting to 46 mph at Florence. Temperatures fell to 30 degrees on April 5 at Dillon and Whitmire. Strong storms before sunrise on April 7 produced winds estimated at 80-90 mph over northern Saluda County into Ballentine. It was back to winter on Sunday morning, April 10, with 28 degrees observed at Pickens, Spartanburg, Lancaster, Cheraw and Whitmire. Light frost was seen over emerging corn near Eastover. Orangeburg 2 warmed to 81 degrees on April 11. Dry, continental air contributed to large diurnal temperature rises on April 18. Table Rock’s sunrise temperature of 37 degrees climbed 49 degrees in nine hours, reaching 86 degrees. Bennettsville recorded 91 degrees on April 19. A cold front caused thunderstorms on April 22 with intense rainfalls of 0.38 inches in 5 minutes (part of a 3.59-inch total) at the USGS Lynches River gage near Effingham. Hilton Head Island warmed to 93 degrees on April 27. Summer-like heat moved the mercury to 94 degrees on April 29 at Bamberg and Barnwell. April’s rainfall ranged from 5.37 inches at Cades to 0.99 inches at N Myrtle Beach.
Thunderstorms on Sunday, May 1, brought 3.29 inches of rain to Rock Hill and a 10-foot rise on Wildcat Creek. The USC Campus in Columbia measured 1.27 inches of rain in just 35 minutes. Sub-tropical conditions set the stage for daily thunderstorms giving the York County AP 5.95 inches of rain over three days. Georgetown, Jamestown and Hilton Head Island all reached 93 degrees on May 8. Towering thunder clouds (65,000 feet) over Chesterfield dropped one-inch diameter hail on May 12. An automated USGS rain gage near Bishopville measured 0.41 inches in just 5 minutes. Anderson’s 4:00 p.m. temperature of 88 degrees fell 21 degrees in one hour following a storm that included surface winds reaching 59 mph. On the morning of May 15, Sassafras Mt. cooled to 37 degrees. Downpours on May 17 brought Pritchardville 6.90 inches of rain and 6.27 inches to Hilton Head Island. An early season tropical depression edged closer to South Carolina on May 28 from a few hundred miles south-southeast of Charleston. Tropical Storm Bonnie eventually would landfall near the Isle of Palms as a depression on May 29 with flooding rains. A Ridgeland CoCoRaHS observer measured a running event total rainfall of 10.14 inches. A sunny Kings Mt. National Military Park recorded 90 degrees for their May 31 high temperature. May’s rainfall ranged from 9.28 inches at Bishopville to 2.36 inches at Walhalla.
Hot weather on June 4 at Clarks Hill, Columbia Metro AP and Jamestown was a product of shade temperatures at 96 degrees. McColl received June’s first week rains of 2.99 inches while only 0.25 inches fell at Spartanburg. The season’s second tropical feature (Tropical Storm Colin) paralleled the coast on June 6 with more soaking rains for the Lowcountry. The Cottageville CoCoRaHS volunteer observer reported 4.84 inches and 3.54 inches fell at Walterboro. High temperatures on June 12 climbed to 99 degrees at Columbia Metro AP, Barnwell and Bennettsville. Heat and humidity combined for an unofficial heat index value of 123 degrees at the Barnwell AP at 12:55 p.m. on June 14. The season’s highest temperatures arrived on June 16. The Columbia Metro AP reported 101 degrees at 5:14 p.m. On June 18, a boundary of cooler air replaced the heat. Orangeburg’s 2:00 p.m. temperature of 82 degrees was 16 degrees lower that at the same hour the day before. Just a few days after the summer solstice on June 20, wilting heat returned. On June 24, Greenwood, Johnston and Cades all shared 99 degrees. Thunderstorms on June 28 produced 4.07 inches of rain at Greenville in 98 minutes. June’s rainfall ranged from 9.28 inches at Bishopville to 0.28 inches at Ware Shoals.
July 1 thunderstorms at Hanahan unloaded heavy rains at around 4:30 p.m. totaling 4.48 inches. One hundred and one degree heat on July 3 was observed at Clemson AP, Johnston and Barnwell. Un-irrigated fields across the southern Midlands, the central Savannah River corridor and into the western Piedmont and Foothills struggled to keep pace against the drying heat and poor distribution of rain events. On Tuesday morning, July 5, both Columbia airports never cooled below 80 degrees. Evening storms on July 8 caused winds of 68 mph in heavy rain over the Laurens County AP. Hilton Head Island’s AP temperature of 104 degrees on July 9 fell 31 degrees in two hours following a storm. Drying heat on July 13 caused a 24-hour open pan evaporation value at Sandhill of 0.52 inches. Storms over Springfield on July 19 dropped 1.75-inch diameter hail and left a rainfall of 2.85 inches. On July 20, 2.17 inches of rain fell in 45 minutes on the USGS Lynches River gage near Effingham. Triple-digit heat on July 25 was recorded at the Clemson-Oconee AP with 101 degrees. July 30 saw temperatures soar to a sweltering 102 degrees at the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station. There was little relief at Folly Beach with a morning low temperature on July 31 of a humid 85 degrees. July’s rainfall ranged from 9.61 inches at Cheraw to 0.69 inches at Greenville Downtown AP.
The Columbia Hamilton–Owens AP afternoon high temperature reached 96 degrees at 5:24 p.m. At around 7:30 p.m., the bottom fell out over Forest Acres and Five Points. Instruments at the MLK Park in Five Points measured 1.02 inches in 10 minutes, part of 3.46 inches in 44 minutes. A State Climatology Office gage near Trenholm Park in Forest Acres was filled with 4.64 inches in just one and one-half hours. The Rocky Branch Creek rose 9 feet in 30 minutes to its third highest stage known. Extensive flooding affected over two dozen merchants in the Columbia Five Points business section. A warm, moist atmosphere meant more downpours during the week. On August 2, 3.26 inches fell on Mt. Pleasant and on Wednesday, August 3, 3.54 inches fell at Long Creek. Heavy rains of 1.19 inches in 15 minutes were measured at Durbin Creek above Fountain Inn on August 7. On August 12, Springmaid Pier Myrtle Beach reported a season high surf water temperature of 87.8 degrees. Although the Jocassee 8WNW observer reported a weekly rainfall of 6.12 inches, McColl received no rain. Heat and humidity made for very uncomfortable outside activities during the third week of August. Santuck in Union County baked under 99 degrees on August 16. The Charleston Harbor Custom House water temperature reached a season high 88.3 degrees at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 20. A welcomed, yet brief, change arrived on Monday, August 22, on a boundary of early fall-like air. At noon, Chester, Laurens and Newberry each noted 81 degrees. Tuesday morning temperatures cooled to 63 degrees in Cheraw, 64 degrees in Lancaster and 67 degrees in Bishopville. The Kingstree Wednesday morning temperature of 61 degrees was their lowest since the first official day of summer. Temperatures at the end of the month were back into the middle 90’s but with much lower humidity. The Florence Regional AP August record least amount of rain at 1.25 inches in 1954 was broken with only 1.23 inches measured in 2016. August rainfall ranged from15.33 inches at Jocassee 8WNW to 1.06 inches at Cades.
The first day of September came with the outermost rain bands entering Dorchester County from a distant Hurricane Hermine located over the Florida Panhandle. A southward-moving boundary collided with the influence of the tropical feature producing nearly stationary and heavy rain. Longtown received 5.30 inches. While Hermine was approaching, Florence recorded another 95 degrees for its 40th time this summer. At 7:56 a.m., the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station had accumulated 3.85 inches of Hermine’s rain. Winds gusted to 59 mph at Folly Beach and 56 mph at Myrtle Beach. Multi-day rainfall measurements included CoCoRaHS totals from Myrtle Beach (10.81 inches) and Murrells Inlet (10.72 inches). A gradient of four-inch rains fell into central Aiken County, eastern Newberry County and Chesterfield County. A seasonal change came behind the departing tropical system with Sullivan’s Island cooling to 65 degrees on September 5. Afternoon temperatures eased back into the middle to upper 90’s beginning September 7 but humidity values were generally below 30 percent away from the coast. In just a few days, sub-tropical conditions returned. A “cloudburst” affected the Orangeburg city limits on September 12 with 3.69 inches falling in one hour leaving “bumper deep” streets and parking lots. Tropical Storm Julia brought more heavy rain to the Lowcountry on September 15. A CoCoRaHS observer at Mt. Pleasant reported multi-day rains of 7.68 inches with 5.01 inches falling at the Charleston AP. Northeast winds gusted to 53 mph at Folly Beach Pier. For almost another week, the broad and erratic drift of Julia kept showers over much of eastern South Carolina. Pawley’s Island was drenched with 7.30 inches. On Friday, September 23, the last of Julia was positioned 20 miles south of Georgetown. During the week, no rain fell at Travelers Rest, Spartanburg or Calhoun Falls. Late night thunderstorms on September 26 left standing water all across Edgefield, Saluda and Greenwood counties. The NWS Cooperative site at the Saluda Filter Plant reported 7.01 inches and a CoCoRaHS volunteer 10.5 miles north of Edgefield reported 6.61 inches. September’s rainfall ranged from 18.37 inches at N Myrtle Beach to 0.10 inches at Greenville Downtown AP.
Jocassee 8 WNW (SCDNR Walhalla Fish Hatchery) cooled to 40 degrees on October 1 and the state’s coldest morning since May 16. The state’s interest on October 6
shifted to a powerful Hurricane Matthew located near Freeport, Grand Bahama Island and moving northwest. At 11:00 p.m. on Friday, October 7, Hurricane Matthew
was positioned 40 miles southeast of Hilton Head Island. Winds were already gusting to 63 mph from the north at the local airport. At 6:50 a.m., winds at Hilton
Head Island airport roared at 88 mph. For the southern-most islands, it was the worst storm since Hurricane Gracie back in 1959. The National Hurricane Center
landfalled Matthew at 11:00 a.m. at the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge near McClellanville. At around the noon hour, giant waves began breaking apart the
Springmaid Pier in Myrtle Beach. Winds reached a peak speed with a gust of 103 mph at the Georgetown Winyah Bay Range Light. Continuous heavy rain had accumulated
to 14.36 inches at Marion. The Florence calendar day total on October 8 of 11.74 inches was the greatest known 24-hour amount in over 120 years of recordkeeping.
The Lumber, Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers all went into “major flood.” On Tuesday, October 11, the Little Pee Dee at Galivant’s Ferry reached a record stage
of 17.10 feet. Flooding within the town of Nichols, adjacent to the Lumber River, was described as “car and home windows deep.” On Tuesday, October 18, the Waccamaw
River near Conway crested at an all-time record 17.89 feet surpassing the previous record stage set on September 30, 1928. Damage to riverside residential personal
property above and below Conway was extensive. Many private and state-owned decks and docks were swept away. Anderson, Greenville and Johnston warmed to 88 degrees on October 20 ahead of colder air. The Sunday morning, October 23 temperature went to 30 degrees at the Pickens County AP with a near-freezing 33 degrees reported at Sandy Springs, Whitmire and Cedar Creek. Autumn’s color was described by Caesars Head staff as not as brilliant due to the dry conditions and early leaf drop. On October 31, the afternoon high temperature rose to 88 degrees at Clarks Hill and McCormick. (Warmest known October 31/Halloween in South Carolina: 93 degrees Bamberg in 1961) Nearly all reporting stations in the state measured no rain from October 9 through the 31st. October’s rainfall ranged from 15.57 inches at Mullins to 0.09 inches at Fountain Inn and Springfield.
After 25 days at or above flood stage (11 feet), the Waccamaw River near Conway subsided below flood stage on November 2. Seasonal, dry weather continued with weak boundaries of progressively colder air moving southward. Cedar Creek recorded 32 degrees on Sunday, November 6. Freezing temperatures were observed on November 8 at Hartsville, Kingstree and Conway. A wildfire on Pinnacle Mountain in Pickens County sent plumes of smoke southeastward into the Midlands on November 9. Areas of rain developed along the coastal zones on Sunday, November 13. Marion was soaked with 2.34 inches and the Murrells Inlet CoCoRaHS volunteer reported 1.99 inches. The Columbia Metro AP received 0.85 inches, and its first measurable rain since October 8. Amounts of less than one-tenth of an inch were noted in the dry mountain counties. Afternoon temperatures on November 18 reached 80 degrees at Greenville, Barnwell, Johnston and Orangeburg 2. Colder air arrived on west winds gusting to 40 mph at the Columbia Metro AP on Saturday, November 19. Saturday’s high temperature of 74 degrees at Cedar Creek plummeted 50 degrees into Sunday morning to at a shivering 24 degrees. The Thursday Thanksgiving holiday was mostly sunny and mild and a day ahead of much colder air. The season’s coldest temperature was observed on Friday morning, November 25, at Ninety Nine Islands with 20 degrees. Soaking rains developed across the Upstate into the morning of November 29. Caesars Head measured 3.01 inches. Sassafras Mountain received 1.91 inches and 1.45 inches fell on Table Rock State Park bringing immediate relief to the more than three weeks of stubborn wildfires that had consumed over 9,500 acres. The unstable air mass produced an EF1–rated tornado on November 30 that passed through Simpsonville. The 2016 November rainfall ranged from 3.71 inches at Caesars Head to 0.06 inches at Walterboro.
November’s rains continued into December 1, reaching a three-day total at Caesars Head of 5.32 inches. On Sunday, December 4, a cloudy and wet Florence stayed between 46 and 49 degrees all day. Heavy rains on December 5 brought 4.40 inches to Summerville, 3.78 inches to Walterboro and 3.51 inches to McClellanville. Freezing air entered the state on December 9 with temperatures at Sassafras Mountain dropping to 17.8 degrees. Ninety Nine Islands near Blacksburg reported 16 degrees on December 10. The Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station recorded an even 32 degrees. Afternoon high temperatures on Sunday, December 11, only made it to 41 degrees at Chester and the Hartsville AP. A nearly stationary boundary on December 12 and 13 produced rain totals of 1.79 inches at Holly Hill, 1.53 inches at Lake City, and 1.51 inches in Bamberg and Manning. Modified arctic air arrived on December 16. Mulllins reported an afternoon high temperature of just 33 degrees. Surging warmth on Sunday, December 18, sent the mercury to a date record 79 degrees at the Florence AP and to 82 degrees at the Columbia Metro AP. A rain-filled and cold boundary developed overnight bringing 1.75 inches to Darlington, 1.48 inches to Shaw AFB and 1.13 inches to Barnwell. On Tuesday, December 20, Clarks Hill was the state’s warmest location at only 48 degrees. The Winter Solstice occurred on December 21 with scattered reports of freezing fog. The 7:58 a.m. observation at McEntire ANG near Eastover included a visibility of less than one-sixteenth of a mile and 31 degrees. A slow warming trend developed into week’s end. On Sunday, December 25, balmy conditions and high temperatures of 75 degrees were observed at Columbia, Johnston and Holly Hill. The state’s warmest known Christmas day occurred at Aiken in 1984 with 82 degrees. Dense fog at 8:00 a.m. on December 27 lowered visibilities to less than one-quarter of a mile at Barnwell, Mount Pleasant and Beaufort. Johns Island reached a mild 72 degrees on December 28. Pre-dawn thunder accompanied scattered heavy rains on Thursday, December 29. Prosperity received 1.80 inches of rain and 1.16 inches fell at the Greenville-Spartanburg AP. Much colder air moved into the state during the afternoon hours on west winds gusting to 44 mph at Anderson and to 48 mph at McEntire ANG. At 8:08 p.m., Sassafras Mountain was at a freezing 32 degrees. On Saturday, December 31, there were public reports of sleet at Lake Keowee, Lyman and Blythewood. Mostly cloudy skies and occasional light rain were observed on New Year’s Eve all across the state. Myrtle Beach International AP noted the highest afternoon temperature with 61 degrees. The December 2016 rainfall ranged from 6.80 inches at Summerville to 2.04 inches at Anderson AP.