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South Carolina State Climatology Office
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South Carolina 2004 Weather in Review

General Summary:

South Carolina temperatures averaged 62.9 F, or 0.25 F above normal while precipitation totaled 47.13 inches, or 0.84 inches below normal. Calendar year 2004 ranks as the 67th warmest and 58th driest year among 110 years of record.


2004 Statewide Average Monthly Temperatures (Degrees F)
AverageJanFebMarAprMayJun JulAugSepOctNovDec
2004 42.80 44.10 56.80 62.20 73.90 78.40 80.20 76.80 72.80 65.60 56.40 45.20
1895-2003 45.09 47.09 54.35 62.09 70.37 77.06 79.82 78.84 73.75 63.40 53.73 46.20
Departure -2.29 -2.99 +2.45 +0.11 +3.53 +1.34 +0.38 -2.04 -0.95 +2.20 +2.67 -1.00
Scale Above Normal Temperatures Below Normal Temperatures


2004 Statewide Average Monthly Precipitation (Inches)
AverageJanFebMarAprMayJun JulAugSepOctNovDec
2004 1.71 5.19 0.98 1.97 2.96 6.34 5.34 7.40 8.51 1.45 3.08 2.20
1895-2003 3.73 3.93 4.33 3.37 3.56 4.73 5.57 5.39 4.23 2.99 2.65 3.49
Departure -2.02 +1.26 -3.35 -1.40 -0.60 +1.61 -0.23 +2.01 +4.28 -1.54 +0.43 -1.29
Scale Above Normal Precipitation Below Normal Precipitation

Significant Events:

A winter weather event on January 24-26 was reported by forestry officials to have caused the most tree damage since Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Over 200,000 people were without power and some for as much as a week or more in the midlands and upstate. Some schools were closed for several days. Snow fell over parts of the midlands and northwestern South Carolina on February 25-27. Snow depths reached 8 feet 3 inches at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, and Rock Hill reported 18 inches in 24-hours (storm total was 22 inches) which was near the state record for 24-hours set at Rimini in 1973. Hurricane season in 2004 was the second most active year since 1985. Gaston made landfall within a few miles of Charley in less than three weeks. This was the first time since 1959 that two named storms made landfall along the South Carolina coast in one season. Seventy-six tornadoes were attributed to tropical systems in 47 days. A new season record of 83 tornadoes broke the old record of 54 in 1995. The remnant of Frances set a new daily record of 41 tornadoes on September 7, shattering the old mark of 23 set by Beryl in 1994.

Synopsis:

January 2004 began with mild 70 degree afternoons. Warm, moist mornings produced sea fog along the central coast with zero visibilities. Jamestown reported 81 degrees on January 5. A sharp cold front during the second week replaced the warmth with freezing air. On January 9, light amounts of sleet, freezing rain and snow fell as far south as Beaufort . Mild and dry weather dominated until near month's end before an intense one-inch freezing rain event coated central South Carolina between January 25 and 27 (See full report on the storm).



Heavy rains early in February cased flooding on some South Carolina rivers. Charleston observed snow flurries on February 16. The state's largest winter weather event of the year developed on February 27. Rock Hill measured a 24-hour snowfall total of 18 inches with as much as 22 inches for the event. Records indicate this was the state's third largest snow ever (see full report on website under SC Climate-SC Snowfall Extremes). By February 29, afternoon temperatures reached the 60's, melting snow in all but shade-protected areas.

March and warm 80 degree temperatures arrived at the same time. Early flowering and light pollen counts became noticeable. The statewide rainfall average was only 0.98 of an inch making this the driest March since records began in 1895. The lack of rain caused delays in field preparation for planting crops. On March 28, Orangeburg reported a high temperature of 88 degrees.

Daily afternoon thunderstorms increased during April bringing relief to the below normal rainfall. Pritchardville measured 2.71 inches of rain on April 11. On April 20, Johnston recorded the state's first 90 degree temperature. Areas that missed the welcomed increase in rainfall coverage reported numerous wildfires.

May started hot with Johnston again getting the attention with 95 degrees on May 8. Thunderstorms during the second week produced 3-5 inch rains between Columbia and Charleston resulting in flash flooding. Daytime temperatures under sunny skies at month's end were nearing 100 degrees, and soil moisture was becoming limited.

Tropical weather increased, producing more clouds and showers in June that reduced the oppressive heat. Between June 14 and 15, Allendale received 5.45 inches of rain. Flooding was reported in Jasper and Hampton Counties. Intense lightning strikes were blamed for several costly structure fires. Large hail covered the ground in Aiken on June 30. A few locations in west central South Carolina received nearly a foot of rain during the month.

On July 1, Edgefield received 3.82 inches of rain from a thunderstorm. Orangeburg reported the state's first 100 degree maximum temperature for the year on July 6. An unusual push of cooler air dropped south along the eastern seaboard at the end of the second week. Daytime highs fell twenty degrees. Long Creek, located in the higher elevations, recorded an autumn-like minimum of 52 degrees on the morning of July 16. A torrential rain of 5.01 inches flooded Hartsville on July 29. The season's first tropical depression formed southeast of Charleston on July 31. Tropical Storm Alex passed east of South Carolina's coast on August 3. Rainfall amounts of one to two inches were measured across the Pee Dee. Johnston's high of 102 degrees on August 4 was the state's highest temperature in 2004. Much cooler air was drawn in behind the exiting tropical weather. Long Creek reported a 49 degree morning low on August 8. Tropical Depression Bonnie (see full report on website under Tropics) crossed South Carolina on August 12-13 bringing three to five inch rains and five tornadoes. Less than 48 hours later, on Saturday, August 14, Hurricane Charley (see full report on website under Tropics) made landfall near Bull's Bay with damaging wind gusts and flooding rain. Springfield reported 6.80 inches. Just two weeks later, Hurricane Gaston (see full report on website under Tropics) came ashore near Cape Romain. The storm flooded areas already saturated by Hurricane Charley earlier in the month. Downtown Charleston recorded a wind gust of 82 mph. The Williamsburg County town of Cades received 8.90 inches of rain in 24-hours.


Charleston NWS Radar, Aug 29, 2004 6 A.M, shows Gaston approaching the Coast.jpg

Charleston NWS Radar, Aug 29, 2004 6 A.M, shows Gaston approaching the Coast


Tornado near SC 9, west of Cheraw.jpg

Tornado near SC 9, west of Cheraw. Photo by Joe Hall of Chesterfield County

A decaying Tropical Depression Frances (see full report on website under Tropics) approached South Carolina from Florida on September 6. The slow moving remnant produced multiple tornadoes and widespread flooding. Caesars Head measured 12.17 inches of rain during the event. Frances set a new daily record of 41 tornadoes on September 7, shattering the old mark of 23 set by Beryl in 1994. The parade of tropical weather continued on September 15 with the remnant of Hurricane Ivan (see full report on website under Tropics) passing near the upstate. Anderson AP observed a wind gust of 59 mph and Long Creek measured 7.66 inches of rain. On September 28, Tropical Depression Jeanne (see full report on website under Tropics) brought another round of stormy weather. Seventeen tornadoes were reported, impacting 16 counties. Gray Court was flooded by 5.87 inches in 24-hours and Caesars Head received 3.80 inches bringing their September rainfall total to 24.25 inches.

Fall weather became apparent during the second week of October with lows in the mid-30s occurring across the upstate. State parks in the higher elevations advertised brilliant leaf colors. Little rainfall fell during October and 80 degree temperatures were reported at the end of the month.

On November 6, Long Creek became the state's first site to reach freezing with a morning low of 31. The ongoing dry weather contributed to an increase in woods fires. November's third week was wet thanks to a nearly stationary front. Beneficial rains reduced the effects of the prolonged dry period. Additional 80 degree highs were noted just before Thanksgiving, but a strong cold front blasted the state dropping temperatures 30 degrees.

On December 8, both Jamestown and Allendale recorded highs of 79 degrees. A pattern more like late summer persisted through the first two weeks along with scattered daily thunderstorms. Greenville measured 4.42 inches on December 10. A significant cold front dropped south on December 15. A secondary and stronger boundary followed on December 19 with some snow reported as far south as Charleston County. The year's coldest weather was noted on the morning of December 20 with Caesars Head reporting a low of 6 degrees. Christmas Day occurred under cloudy skies and brisk northerly winds. Late in the evening a light mixture of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow began to fall from central sections eastward to the coast. The year 2004 ended as it began, dry and mild.

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