Bands of thunderstorms with hail and lightning swept across the Midlands Sunday evening, causing flooding, power outages and granting a respite to four straight days of 100-degree-plus or more temperatures in the Midlands.
“We’ve had hail between 2 inches and 21/4 inches – that’s between golf-ball and tennis-ball size,” said National Weather Service forecaster Mike Proud.
Most of the hail was between the size of a quarter and a golf ball, Proud said.
Sunday’s late-afternoon storms, which came after the mercury hit 106 degrees, dumped large amounts of water across Columbia. Portions of the low-lying Five Points business district and Whaley Street close to the University of South Carolina campus were flooded.
At Hamilton-Owens Airport, 1.95 inches of rain fell in one hour. A rain gauge at USC got 1.5 inches of rain in one hour, from 4:40 p.m. to 5:40 p.m.
Columbia police and fire agencies reported no major damage, although a felled tree blocked part of Gervais Street downtown.
As of 10 p.m., S.C. Electric & Gas reported 3,686 outages in Richland County, out of 153,000 customers, and 1,799 outages in Lexington County out of 93,000 customers.
“It wasn’t so much a line of thunderstorms, as much as it was unstable cells,” said Proud, who added that individual thunderstorms spawn others. “Today was just an incredibly unstable day.”
For anyone who thinks that Sunday’s hail and rain mean cooler weather, think again. Columbia-area temperatures are expected to hit 102 degrees today.
But a “cold snap” is forecast for Tuesday. “Tuesday, we are looking for a high of 98,” Proud said.
Monday’s heat may break later this afternoon.
“We are expecting another fairly widespread round of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening,” Proud said.
Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.