The power and trees went down in the metropolitan area Friday afternoon as a spring thunderstorm tore through the capital city with hail and winds strong enough to leave some 35,000 customers without electricity.
Starting about 1:30 p.m., a fast-moving front ahead of a weekend cool down scattered hail and left homes damaged and peppered street with debris, according to the National Weather Service and other authorities.
Some Columbia neighborhoods were without power for as much as four hours while sporadic outages extended to sundown.
By the time the storm reached the South Carolina coast later in the day, more than 100,000 customers were without electricity.
No deaths were reported in metropolitan Columbia, but falling trees damaged many homes. A 17-year-old in the Coldstream neighborhood in Lexington County was trapped for a short while when a tree toppled, officials said. And a resident of Linwood Road south of Forest Acres had minor injuries caused by a tree, the Columbia Fire Department said.
Shandon resident Shari Hutchinson’s husband, Tim Carrier, barely escaped being hurt after he returned to work just before a tree destroyed their home, Hutchinson said.
“We lived in fear of this,” she said of the 1,750-square-foot home on the 300 block of Sims Street where they have lived for seven years. “Our house is crushed.”
Friday afternoon, she watched as workers sawed off limbs and a crane prepared to lift the gigantic trunk from the side yard.
“They haven’t been inside yet,” so, “I don’t know how much devastation happened,” Hutchinson said. “But I’m afraid the house is completely destroyed.”
The fallen tree forced the couple to cancel their first vacation in a decade, which was a trip to Yellowstone National Park that was to start Tuesday.
The couple also two months ago finished a long-term renovation of the 83-year-old Mediterranean-style, pink stucco house. The work included a new roof, kitchen and bathroom.
South Carolina Electic & Gas Co. reported more than 30 times the number of outages in Richland County than in Lexington County. That underscores the scattered nature of the storm’s impact.
But the worst of the storm passed Columbia by 2:35 p.m., said Doug Anderson of the National Weather Service.
Shortly after the storm blew in, the weather service said unconfirmed reports of hail ranged from dime-size to half-dollar size – the larger of which hit the Leesburg and Leitner roads off Garners Ferry Road in southeast Columbia.
The city of Forest Acres also was pelted with hail ranging for nickel-size to one-inch in diameter, Anderson said. The weather service issued a hail alert that warned of the potential of property and tree damage.
From offices at Columbia’s main airport, Anderson said reports of hail along Shop, Garners Ferry roads and Forest Acres near Richland Mall came in by 1:40 p.m. The reports described hail the size of a dime, he said.
Anderson said the reports at those locations had not been confirmed. But Twitter users around town shared photos of dime- and quarter-sized ice chunks.
Trees were down and roads blocked in many areas of Richland and Sumter counties as a cold front brought the edge of the storm around 1:15 p.m. “Richland and Sumter have taken the brunt of it,” Anderson said.
The Columbia fire department urged caution around downed power lines and told people to call 911 to report downed lines or transformers that arched.
SCE&G reported about 15,000 outages in Beaufort County and 12,000 outages in Charleston County, while Berkeley Electric Cooperative reported nearly 17,000 outages in Berkeley and Charleston counties.
Thousands of people also lost power in Aiken, Barnwell, Clarendon Colleton, Dorchester, Greenwood, Hampton, Sumter and Williamsburg counties.
Staff writers Tim Flach, Cassie Cope, Avery Wilks and The Associated Press contributed.